Ryan and I have spent a solid week alone together; the first half of that week we were snowed in, unable to leave our property. Seriously, not only did it take three days for a snow plow to hit our street, but when Ryan tried going out to play in our backyard, his boots got stuck in the snow and we had to carry him inside barefoot and then dig for over half an hour to find them.
I have a week's worth of stories piled up in my head.
|This is the view of my deck, before we actually tried going out that door.|
The first thing you need to know is that Ryan is highly social in his own way. He may not know what to do with other kids, but he desperately wants to be near them.
Ryan didn't express interest in sledding until a full week after the initial snow fall; I think the whole losing-his-boots affair turned him off the idea of playing in 3-foot-deep snow. I had offered to take him sledding several times, but he shut himself in the boiler room with some old blocks (more on that another day).
On Friday morning I finally got him to agree to go to the big sledding hill behind the local elementary school. He was appropriately enthusiastic the whole ride there.
And then we arrived. And we were the only ones there.
Ryan sobbed. "Aaagh, where is everybody? Where are all the friends?" He pressed his face against the brick wall of the school and cried like he had just lost his puppy. Mercifully, while I was failing to convince Ryan that we could still go sledding while we waited for other folks to show up, a family of four kids arrived with their well-prepared father (dad brought a freaking folding chair...). Ryan sighed with relief and happily galloped off to get his sled.
It was quite a while before Ryan attempted any sort of interaction with the other kids. He seemed perfectly content to play in their presence.
At some point he decided he wanted to challenge everyone else to a race. I explained to him that he would have to ask someone to race, and then would have to wait for a response, and then would have to start at the same time as the other racer. The other kids clearly had no idea what to make of Ryan and had no interest in figuring him out. They weren't mean, they just had their own activities going on and didn't understand why Ryan didn't recognize that.
But no matter, Ryan attempted to engage the other sledders. He was under the impression that he had raced another boy, even though the other kid was paying zero attention to him. He had a wonderful time spending way too much time lying at the bottom of the hill and getting in everyone's way, and then decided it was time to go home for hot chocolate.
On Saturday afternoon, Ryan asked if we could go sledding again. The three of us got to the sledding hill around 3pm, and much to Ryan's dismay, we were alone. Again, Ryan cried, devastated that "everyone" was not there, begging us to "find everybody" and asking when "everybody" would be there. For a while, we convinced him that we could have fun sledding on our own, just the three of us, but soon we just weren't enough for him. Stu and I suggested we go grocery shopping and then come back and see if there were any more people on the hill. Ryan agreed to this plan.
By a stroke of brilliant luck, there was one family of three kids sledding when we returned from the supermarket. Ryan was as social as I've ever seen him, sledding WITH the other children, even if they showed no interest in his presence. He talked to them the whole time, undeterred by their consistent lack of response. He tried to be the ring leader, despite being the youngest child around. He was blissfully happy, and we had to drag him away as the sun was setting.
He did everything he could to make friends, and he seemed truly happy with his results. It may be a blessing that Ryan doesn't understand that his advances were not being reciprocated.