Melissa Atkins Wardy, with permission from her son Ben, writes empathetically about his social anxiety and the kind of adjustments she has made to accommodate and honor those times Ben “might have some tears”.
“My kids freeze. They have panic attacks. They drop out of first grade in favor of homeschooling. They can walk up to a group of new kids at the park to make friends and start a game of play, but they cry over things that seem really little or insignificant and I don’t get it. I’m more like a Golden Retriever: everything’s a party and everyone is my best friend. Ben makes me pause, reframe, and see situations the way his little heart see them.”
Uninterested in making Ben fit her own mold of life, but equally understanding of her responsibility to raise him to look after himself, Wardy demonstrates the ways children can learn from their guardians how to develop their own agency and self expression, on their own terms, without being stuffed into a box of confining expectations arbitrarily determined by gender.