Today was Sports Day at school. I decided to take the day off work and attend because I wanted to see Seb in the 800m, long jump and 400m relay.
I went just as the events were starting and found a sea of students all dressed in their dynasty colours. Purple, blue, red, yellow, orange, green. And there, alone, was Seb.
I was talking to my friend Mel, who I have known for so many years. And suddenly I was alone, the day was dark and my heart cracked. As my boy spotted me and came to stand near me. And stayed, because I was the one person he could be with. Or who wanted to be with.
And then the questions as I am asking myself while trying to carry on a conversation with Mel.
Is this a bigger deal for me than it is for him?
Does he have absolutely no friends at this school?
Does he know this?
Agonising. Trying not to let him see my face as I give him hugs, assure him of my love, and then ask him, trying to inject a casual note into my voice, where his friends are.
"Who?" He asks me.
"Um, well your friends?" And I list a few names.
"They're gaming in the bleachers. I didn't want to." So that's that. So he is alone. Other kids are walking in clumps, writing on each other's legs and faces with markers and lipstick of their dynasty's greatness. Seb walks alone to the long jump. I follow him. Year eights are just finishing their jumps so I get to cheer for Adam as well.
He is the only one in his dynasty who made it to the long jump finals, so afterwards he walks back with me and one of my friends.
Does he feel isolated? Does he see that everyone else seemingly has friends and he does not?
He does well in the 800m, not brilliantly, but well, finishing fourth. His second lap was fantastic, he moved from seventh to fourth. Really promising. His running is taking an easier style. I wonder if he will be in 1500 next year as soon as he learns more strategy.
A couple of girls compliment him when he is done. And then mums compliment him. And their kindness makes these easy useless tears dart nearer to the surface.
I am grateful I have a meeting to get to and some documents to sign. I ask Sebbie anxiously if it is okay if I go. "Who will you spend time with?" I inquire. "I don't mind being alone," he answers, the same answer he always has. Then he throws in, "But if you could give me some money for lunch...." Happily I throw 100 at him.
The meeting isn't far away, and I find myself finishing early and heading back instead of home where I have a tonne of research to do.
Seb said he would be running the third leg of the 400 relay. It was one of the last races of the day apparently.
I hop it to the sports stadium, imagining what will wait for me there. Best case scenario, Seb is with other kids and smiling. I am glad I am going back.
I find him, more colours, at the top of the bleachers, talking with another boy who is crying. Rocking back and forth. He is digging through his backpack while he is doing this, but I can see the rocking boy is listening to Seb.
All around me, I see other parents, their children confident and surrounded with friends. Laughing, joking, sharing food and racing around. The parents seem to have such glossy, carefree lives. They don't have to live with the knowledge their child doesn't fit in at school. It seems their biggest concern is which dynasty will place first in the sporting event, or what place their child will be in the relay. Im wondering if anyone will bother to slap Seb's hand when he crosses the finish line. And I promise myself I won't go to the finish line, I WONT, but I will be close. Very close.
And I look at him again, occasionally trying to talk to the rocking boy, but more leaning off to the distance and dreaming.
Then my man sees me. And the smile. It is the same smile as I saw in year two when his class was giving a show, and he was scanning the audience looking for magnificent and me. his face was so worried, and then when he saw us - he relaxed and grinned that wonderous grin, like we had put the world to rights by just being in it.
Take away the hat, and that was the face I saw today grinning at me.
"You came back!" he exclaimed, burying his head into my shoulder.
"Of course I did!" I smiled at him.
He has no idea what it cost me to come back to see him, alone, without mates to run around with, and kids running up to congratulate him. The only thing I've got going for me right now is the certainty of how happy I made him. Otherwise, I feel raw. It's not nice seeing how different your child is, how they are not fitting in.
The good? I don't think he knows. I think I am being overdramatic about this. His friendless state doesn't upset him.
And the best? I saw kindness today. People reaching out to be kind to me and my son. People who must have sorrows, because I know everyone has a story.
It all comes back to "be kinder than necessary".
I didn't set any new year's resolutions for 2014. There were no promises of achieving headstands in yoga, no marathon, no weight maintenance. But today I realised my goal for 2014 is: be kinder than necessary to everyone I encounter.
Because as a recipient, I can't begin to tell you the difference it made.
Thank you to those to reached out to me and my heart today.