I was beyond worried about my seventh grade boy. Middle school can be tough. And Gus is anything but tough. He’s quiet, sensitive, easily brought to tears. He marches to the beat of his own drummer. He’s most comfortable with adults, doesn’t always “get” kids his own age. He’s picked on ad nauseum by his big (and his little) brother.
He’s my loner, Gus. He likes to do things his own way. I’ll still contend that five weeks of neonatal silence changed his soul in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. My other three kids? They’re sarcastic, loud, outspoken, hot-tempered, irreverent. They’ve got a little bit of their parents in them.
But Gus has always been different. Not bad different. Just different. Just scratch-my-head-and-look-at-him-sideways-when-he-says-something-completely-unexpected different.
And you know what else? He’s thriving in Mississippi.
He’s joined the band, is playing his baritone as if his life depended on it. He’s made a wide circle of friends, has had multiple sleepovers, has moved up to pre-algebra, and comes out of school every day with a big grin on his sweet face.
It’s been a true metamorphosis.
You know what I think has happened?
Sam, Mary Claire, and George were pretty social kids in Zionsville. They had each found a niche, they knew how the landscape was navigated, they were pretty convinced that Zionsville was how the world worked.
George has discovered — much to his dismay — that he didn’t really know how the world worked outside of Zionsville.
Gus is just blazing a new trail. Because he can. Because he doesn’t have any self-limiting conversations. Because “the norm” for Gus was never the norm. He’s always operated outside those boundaries.
His new lease on life makes me smile. As Chris will contest, I tend to coddle him, tend to baby him, tend to come to his rescue when he should probably be learning how to rescue himself.
“Just because he’s ‘The Sick One’ doesn’t mean you need to hold his hand until he’s 23,” my husband proclaims readily.
(He also tends to say the same thing about “The Baby.”)
But I haven’t been holding Gus’s hand here. And he hasn’t needed it.
Tonight, he’s trying out for the 7th grade bowling team. Bowling! Perhaps a little bit of his great-great Granny Twyford (4-time womens world champion bowler) will see him through.
I’m just damn proud of him for trying, for stepping out of his comfort zone, for traveling a new path. Whatever version of Gus you’re on, Buddy? I’m good with it.