Friends are hard to come by for Corey. Our neighborhood doesn't have many kids, and none are his age. He attends an independent study program twice a week for up to an hour each time, mainly to take tests and turn in assignments. The interactions with other students are limited. Corey's shy, too. He's always been shy, even when his behaviors were calling everybody's attention his way.
He has a friend, Rachel, with whom he attends school and band. School is in our town, but band used to be in the town "next door." Rachel's mom and I worked out a deal where I would pick the kids up at school and take them to band. Rachel's mom picked them up. It was my one and only bona fide carpooling experience and I loved it, but the band class is now within walking distance from school, so it's over.
One of the reasons I loved carpooling is that Rachel's a pretty great girl. She's a smart ass, to be sure, but she teases Corey and he actually laughs about it. Corey and Rachel talk on the phone quite a bit. I don't know how much, but I'm guessing that most days I could push redial when I walk in from work and end up chatting with her, too.
The other night he got a call from her and I happened to hear a few words, but nothing I could string together in a sentence, my hearing's not that great. What I wouldn't have given to be able to just stand there and listen in. That's what I'd have to do, too, since we have the world's smallest kitchen. There'd be no pretending that I had to be six inches from him for long. The thing that struck me about what I did hear wasn't the words, it was his tone. He sounded so sincere and soothing. If I was a girl, a boy with his way of talking would have been just the thing. It's not that he's smooth, either. I know, because I've always had access to his MySpace pages and the conversations he's had on there are juvenile at best.
I think Corey likes Rachel. I haven't always thought it, but it does make me glad that I turned down a request he made a couple of weeks ago...
Corey (on Rachel's cell phone, calling me after school one day): "Hi, Mom! Hey, I have an idea. I'm done with school... I passed my test. Could I go to the library with Rachel? Otherwise I just have to go home and be all... by... my... self. So I could just hang out with her there for a while or, HEY, I know, she could come to my place (did he just say "my place" like it's his pad or something?!) and we could hang out until her mom gets off work."
Me: "Uh... yeah, that'd be a heck no! You can walk with Rachel to the library, but then you need to get yourself home straightaway. Call me when you get there. Better yet, I'll see you when you get there. Love you, bye!"
Whew! I might have averted the creation of my first grandchild! Probably not, though, really. I can't tell how Rachel sees Corey. Maybe she doesn't know either. Corey's certainly confused.
Rachel invited Corey to attend a play with her and her dad this afternoon. Even though Rachel was wearing jeans and a nicer T-shirt than she wears to school, Corey wore black dress pants, a black shirt, burgundy tie and a black vest (worn inside out because he likes the lining better than the vest itself... never mind the label, would ya). However, before selecting his attire, he tried to get into an argument with Tom. Tom told him that he needed to pull himself together or he wasn't going. Corey said he didn't want to go anyway.
He did end up pulling himself together, but he still didn't want to go. Rachel teases him and he figured she didn't like him. He couldn't see why she'd ask him to attend the play when she has other friends and she likes to hang out with them. Then Corey started melting down completely, complaining about all the things he doesn't want to do anymore, like go to band or hang out with Rachel or... anything! Looked like a classic case of nerves to me.
I reminded him that we do get to choose our friends. If Rachel isn't offering good friendship, he should respect himself enough to put an end to it. On the other hand, she and her dad would be coming to pick him up within the hour. He had accepted the invitation and he would have to see it through; it was too late for her to find a replacement.
"But the play's about a dog and it says that anybody who has ever owned a dog, which I haven't, or anybody who's ever competed for a dog's love, whatever that means, will love this play. That's not me."
"Remember when we went and saw Late Night Catechism? We're not Catholic, but we had a blast. And you don't listen to opera, but you went to see Phantom of the Opera and you loved it. You'll probably love this play, too."
Somehow it all worked out. He got dressed... a couple of different ways before choosing the ensemble. He came home smiling and happy that he went. The play had a sad ending and Rachel cried in front of him. She's kind of a tough bird and he's very sensitive, so I think that it got to him. I haven't asked if he's still quitting band and... well, everything.