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Robin Gorman Newman Headshot

Finding Kindred Spirits as a Kid

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It's not always easy making friends who are "keepers," so to speak.

I've learned over the years that not everyone is meant to be in our lives forever... sometimes they come in 'n out so they and/or we can learn from the relationship. I've always been somewhat sensitive and at times have taken it personally, but as I age, I've come to understand that some enter our lives so we grow from the experience, and ultimately we are both meant to move on, and hopefully gained greater insight from it.

My son Seth, age 11, has a couple of friends he's known since a young age, but has otherwise not connected with many like-minded kids. Elementary school has been tough in that way. Kindred spirits don't always easily present themselves.

He's not a sporty kid. Though he enjoys kick-boxing lessons and swimming, he's dropped out of soccer and baseball leagues.

He attends Hebrew School, but hasn't made any buddies there.

Cub Scouts was not to his liking.

He goes to summer day camp, and while he enjoys, the summer friendships have been fleeting.

He plays with kids of varied ages from the neighborhood at our community pool, but that's seasonal.

Though he's a friendly, likeable kid, he's totally okay, at this point in his young life, opting our of socializing opps in favor of computer time. I'm not a huge fan of electronics. I personally think it can be highly addicting, whether for kids or adults, but especially for kids, I want my son to make peer buddies he can hang with.

Recently a funny thing happened -- I truly believe the universe stepped in.

I was invited to join the board of SEPTA in my town -- the local special ed PTA. I had always resisted because I wasn't game to publicly declare that I'm parenting a child who is different. I've always been fiercely protective of his story, and while I still am, this year I decided it was critical to immerse myself more than even in being his advocate and connecting with others locally who know more than I do and can share resources, etc. I'm SO glad I did it. The women on the board are wonderful, and we've thus far been a welcome support for each other. As anyone knows who has a kid with an IEP, it can often feel like a fulltime job to do all that it takes both behind the scenes and otherwise to get them what they most need to succeed academically, personally and beyond. I have often felt it takes a village, and by joining SEPTA, I feel like I'm finding my village... and a smart, knowing one at that.

One day I was speaking with a fellow board member who shared that her son is big time on Roblox, a popular website. I said my son is too. I asked what her sons screen name is, and I told Seth. Turned out that for a year or so, Seth had befriended her son on Roblox, and they were playing together virtually. We were all stunned! They live five minutes from us by car. What is the likelihood of that?! So, I quickly proposed we get the boys together. Seth is 11, and her son is 7, though she has an 11 year old as well who will be in school with Seth next year. It was exciting to see them connect in person, and while the boy is younger than Seth, they enjoyed each other, and I felt like I was watching a mini-me Seth. Not only did they have Roblox in common, but the boy loves to play dress-up, whether as a fireman, policeman, military guy, etc. Seth's been doing that for years!

In the fall, Seth enters middle school. Both he and I are hopeful that socially he will have greater opportunities, and I believe that will be true. There are clubs he can elect to join, and he changes classes, so he will mingle with many more kids, and some from other elementary school who have chosen this Middle School.

I know that he will make friends, as he's meant to. Anyone would be lucky to have him as a friend... he's a loving, kind, compassionate person... not to mention intelligent, fun and funny.

I treasure my time with him, as I know the day will come when he opts out of mommy-time in favor of his buddies. But, that's as it should be, and I look forward to knowing he's in good company.