Matthew’s been gel-ing his hair for a while now. He’s pretty meticulous about it and wants it to look a certain way. He’s recently added a new accessory to his ‘look’ – he even calls them his “trademark:” shades. He’s got about three different pairs of sunglasses and claims that his friends can’t wait to see which pair he’ll be wearing each day.
It seems Spring Fever has reached these 5th graders and the crushes and giggling and pointing and general pubescent carrying-on is in full swing. Evan, a friend of Matthew’s has – apparently (I’ve been told) – become quite popular with the ladies and several little gals are BIG fans of Evan’s. Evan – Mr. Supercool Big Man on Campus – has decided he needs some back-up in fending off these girls, and he has ‘hired’ Matthew to be one of his ‘bodyguards.’ Well, you can see just how perfectly Matthew’s wearing of shades fits into his new role as Bodyguard/Secret Service detail.
I’d discussed with Matthew how he – under no circumstances – can wear the sunglasses IN school. I explained that it’s disrespectful (not making eye contact with people – especially adults, etc.), people might think he’s blind (or at least pretending to be which is also not cool) and, well, um, it’s also just a little odd. He assured me he only wears them at recess and on the bus.
Well, last week, I helped put on a baby shower for Zachary’s 3rd grade teacher. At the end of the day, I see Matthew walking down the hall – of course dutifully protecting Evan. Matthew is easy to spot. At 5 foot 3, he towers over 99.9% (rough estimate) of the kids in the school. Matthew is – as I figured – totally rockin’ his shades IN the building. NOT OK.
I head outside and run into my friend Tiffany.
“Where’s Matthew?” She asked.
“Oh, he’s too cool, you know, with his shades ‘n all, to ride home with me. He wanted to take the bus home with his buddies.” Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Tiffany’s 5th grade son overheard us.
“Yeah, what’s with Matthew and those sunglasses? He wears them all the time. It’s super weird.” More confirmation of my fears.
You can bet your bippy that later that day, Matthew and I had a little chat. I eventually got him to admit that yes, he’s wearing the sunglasses (not in the classroom, but definitely in the hallway) and – as I suspected – the sunglasses are becoming a bit of a crutch for my shy boy. He can look at people without them knowing it and he doesn’t have to make eye contact, etc. He goes on to tell me that – as Evan’s “bodyguard” – one day, he was assigned “lookout duty” and had to count how many times Maggie looked over at Evan during lunch. (53). So, he HAD to wear the sunglasses then…
“You realize that in staring at Maggie, she probably thinks that you like her now and…that’s kind of weird with the sunglasses and all…”
“Yeah,” Matthew admits, “Zach and his friends all say that they’re creepy.” Well, um, yes! If you’re wearing them so you can look at girls without them realizing….uh…a little stalkery! For sure. (Of course, I say all of these things to him in a kinder, not-quite-as-blunt-but-you-need-to-stop-the-weirdness mom sort of way).
He promises he’ll ONLY wear the sunglasses when he’s outside.
The next morning he finds an old broken cell phone Bluetooth and starts wearing it on his ear – for playing, at recess and at the bus stop. (The ear piece – that doesn’t work – totally makes him a super legit Bodyguard).
Friday afternoon, when the boys get off the bus, I can tell something’s wrong.
“I got puked on at school. I need to get home NOW to shower and change” Matthew quickly tells me. Yeah, gross.
Later I find out that some poor kiddo –at the very end of the school day – suddenly got sick and Matthew (and one other kid) took the brunt of the impact. Turns out, Evan was behind Matthew and was essentially blocked from being showered in the nasty.
“Are you telling me, that you jumped in the line of projectile vomit - fire to protect Evan?!” I asked. “You are taking this WAY too seriously.”
“No,” Matthew assured me. “Not on purpose really. But…” he adds proudly, “I did definitely block him!”