This morning, I dropped Ben off at school. He was excited because now that his best friend's mom works at the school, Cody is there early. Ben burst into the classroom and very loudly said hello to Cody. Cody looked uncomfortable. Ben immediately ran up to Cody to hug him, and Cody took a step away. Ben didn't understand. He took a step closer. Cody took another step away. Pretty soon, Ben was chasing after Cody, trying to get him to give him a hug. The teacher thought they were playing tag, but really Cody was trying to get away from Ben. Cody finally came up to me and said, "Can you tell [Benjamin] to stop following me?"
This was hard to watch. In fact, watching this made me feel like my chest was being crushed. I tried to tell Cody that Ben just wanted to play with him, but Cody said he didn't want to play with Ben.
This is Ben's best friend. He's trying to tell Ben that he needs some space. And Ben doesn't get it.
And then there is Elliott. He is a loner at daycare. There are two girls his own age who already talk really well. One of these girls had a mother who did hardcore drugs when she was pregnant, and she still talks better than Elliott. When Elliott wants something, rather than try to ask for it, he collapses into the floor and screams and cries and rolls around and sometimes kisses the carpet. Needless, to say, he doesn't have a lot of friends. Yesterday, he got a tub of cookies out of the pantry and came careening towards me screaming. I said, "Say cookie," and instead of trying to talk, he threw the tub at me, ran away, and fell into the floor screaming, his face turning red and tears springing from his eyes.
I had no social skills when I was a kid, but I figured that was because my parents made no effort to raise me even somewhat normally. They didn't teach me boundaries or etiquette. But I'm trying to teach my kids that, and it's clearly not working. Maybe poor social skills are just genetic. Hopefully not.