Mr G is having some issues with school.
Not class, but kids. See, um, (borrowing my sister's phrase, everyone put on your surprised faces) Mr G isn't your typical average everyday kid.
Nay, he is himself, and that means he's not like other kids. This is starting to present as a problem for him, as he develops his social life.
Even his friends think he's a bit weird.
Yeah, he's a history geek. He doesn't have a dog, and he doesn't have a game system. He has few points of reference between his life and theirs. If he talks about his dreams (metallurgy, smithing, having a house in the woods far from everyone where he lives a non-materialist, near-subsistence lifestyle), they all look at him like he's an alien. They say rude things or look away. They try to steer him back to something that fits within their worldview by being dismissive of his dreams and goals.
There's no way that doesn't hurt. Even though we know he knows himself and will be true to himself, he wants so bad to have peers who understand, who can relate, who can reflect him back to himself in a positive way. He has one, but she has a huge crush on him so he's somewhat iffy about taking in too much of that reflection. (She's also a babe, and smart, and has cool parents, and is a museum and history fiend, but those are apparently entirely beside the point.)
He really needs to be in a Quaker school or a school for the arts, or pretty much any school that isn't just a feeder-pattern school. Not that his school is really that - it is a Charter, which means (here) that everyone there is there because their parents cared enough to get the forms, fill them out, and get them in on time. After that it is lottery, pure and simple.
Either that, or he needs to have more friend contact outside school with the kids from church, or from Meeting. He needs access to the kids from Quaker camp, or insertion into something like the SCA. (I wince, I do - the historical recreation group I was part of as a teen was very down on the SCA for being too into the history and not enough into playing safely - we were very 'use padded weapons in battle recreations you dopes!' at the time.)
For now, though, this school is good - I don't want to pull him while he's developing this process. We want an exit strategy, but we also want working strategies for the process. It is not going to be the last socially uncomfortable situation he'll be in. So, we're working on that part. And these parts:
A) Family safety net: We're here for him. We listened, reflected back how much he'd like to have the things other kids have and love, so that he has points of reference to share. We heard his sadness and hurt over their dismissiveness, and we talked about the less overt forms of social control between peers, and he heard us when we acknowledged how much it hurts - it is essentially subtle bullying. He registered that he has something special in his family that other kids don't have - that we listen, that we respect him, that we take him seriously, that we honor his dreams and goals, that we don't try to control the shape of his future, that we don't use shame on him. He still loves and is willing to value that we're willing to shape our lives to the dreams of our kids - I certainly never thought I'd be sitting over breakfast discussing caudal fin shapes of various sharks with my 4-year-old daughter, but I'll do it because she loves sharks, and I'll love doing it. That's all good, and he heard it.
B) Making bridges to his dreams: We talked out how to earn money for the things he wants, and when we went over the things he really wants, it came back to his real future dreams, and not the things his peers have. Okay, so he does want a dog. And I'm allergic to dogs and we have three cats and a tiny house, and ... no dog. But the game system dropped off radar, and we were back to chain mail and archer's axes. He was overwhelmed with surprise and glee when he found out that (GASP!) mommy knows how to make chain mail. And daddy remembers a bit from watching his cousin (a long-term SCA guy) work on it. WOOO! Bridge structure coming up. We'll lay the planks as we go.
C) Peer management. This one is trickier, and has several layers. One, he has to be willing to address the attitude he gets back, in the moment or later. There's a HUGE decorum and respect requirement at his school, so he has power at his back. Plus the administration thinks he rocks, so they're likely to want to help him out. We'll be working on strategies for how to respond when someone goes iffy on him. We'll also work on strategies for deciding who is safe, who is not, what content is good to share, how to work into a conversation so that you can tie it to someone else's experience, how to listen (er, something he's not great at) to someone else's dreams without either going to envy or annoyance when their dreams differ from yours, and so forth. All the social stuff - which is a years-long task, but definitely could use some work (Mr G being rather a blunt instrument socially).
D) Peer outreach: That is, getting him more hooked in with the other peers, the ones who share his dreams. We've postponed the family reunion because of cost issues (that is, I've only just got my job offer for full-time/perm employment and I'm still mid-negotiation, plus ep is still unemployed), so we really don't have loads of availble cash. BUT, there is this huge Quaker camp (2-weeks sleep-away) that really would suit him, and would have kids whose values are in tune with his... a bit ouchy on cost, though not at all out of line with other camps. So, we need to work on hooking him up with those kids, with the kids at the UU Fellowship (outside school), and probably more with his cousins on ep's side (he's hooked up with two of the ones on my side, at least, and ep's family has a lot of the SCA/history/outdoors/low-materialism thing).
Anyway, that's the plan. That plus listening over and over, hearing him out when he's sad, reflecting that we understand, and showing him the shape of the future. Case in point: I was a weird kid, myself, but while I probably still qualify as weird, many people respect me, and they consider me aware and smart and wise and even interesting. When I had the same understandings about people and relationships and motivations at 10 years old, it was freaky and bizzare and unnatural (10 year old girls should not be observing relationship motivations and figuring out why people do what they do, they should be planning out their dream weddings and going gaga over cute Rock stars and actors, doncha know?). Having those skills now, though, is just useful (waaaay useful, especially since it is my job at work - yesterday was such a good day at work, I can't even begin to express it. Okay, I did express it all over the family, I think I said, "I freakin' ROCK!" - heh - I got a client-side team member (with greater power in the project than we have) to do exactly what we wanted him to do when he had already said he didn't want to and thought it was a bad idea... and to make it quite impressive I explained what I needed to do to my project manager before we talked to the client-side guy (let him get angry, hold him there on the point where he's angry and don't let him start making decisions from there because he goes off in directions that aren't useful, just hold him right to that topic until he calms down), I then did exactly what I said I'd do, and it worked. The client not only apologized for getting angry, he volunteered to do exactly what we wanted him to do. My project manager just looked at me like, 'whoa' and then suddenly started taking me very seriously. I feel all A-Team-ish, 'I love it when a plan comes together'. Heh. Er, okay, sorry, I'm gonna hurt myself patting myself on the back... Still, I have mad People-Do skills, and they hired me to use them, and it is very satisfying to prove the case. Probably more so because it feeds all the way back to the kids saying 'you're weird' when I was 10.)
So much of parenting this age is not letting the kids slip through the cracks or fall through the net. Its teamwork, in the best sense. It helps Mr G just to know we've got his back.