Today Hudson is six years old. Many of you who have followed my blog since its inception have likely read anxious posts detailing my agonizing decision to take him out of one pre-k program and place him in another and my worries over his going to kindergarten. Hudson is the least adaptable of all of my children. He is noticeably more introverted than his brother Camden and more anxious than his brother Lawson. Until last year, he had great difficulty making strong social connections. When we moved here, he cried for months over missing his one acquaintance from preschool, a child whose last name I never even learned.
I credit WIPP a great deal for changing Hudson's life and building his confidence level. He made his first friend, Dodge, who to this day still tops his list of besties, and thrived in the safe environment of Julie Reese and Lindy Horton's classroom. Last spring at kindergarten orientation, all the progress he made evaporated when he panicked and ran when the kids were divided into different groups and sent with individual teachers. He knew no one, and I saw his old anxieties surge to the surface. I had to chase down Camden's kindergarten teacher and plea with her to take Hudson into her group. He was familiar with her, so she was the only teacher he would agree to walk with.
I was very blessed that Hudson was placed in Mrs. Sheppard's (Camden's former teacher) room and even more blessed that Dodge ended up in the same class. Hudson struggled at first, earning straight faces and two frowny faces as he adjusted to the schedules and rules of class. Eventually I began to receive positive feedback from Mrs. Sheppard, and Hudson began talking about other classmates besides Dodge.
One afternoon he came home and announced he made a new friend. According to Hudson, the little boy didn't have a friend in class, and Hudson felt like it was important for him to become his first friend. They play together often now. When another boy was moved into his class a month into the school year, Hudson was wary because this little man had long been friends with Dodge. The first day was disappointing to Hudson because he felt like the new boy wasn't interested in being his friend, but each day got a little better. Soon Hudson considered Dodge's friend his friend as well.
When a situation arose where this little boy was laughed at by his classmates for a particular behavior, Hudson came home very upset over the incident. He told me very emphatically that he and Dodge did not laugh with the other students, and he was very disappointed in the friends who did. The little boy's mother mentioned the incident to me the following week and expressed how thankful her son was that Hudson not only did not laugh, but was angered by the behavior of those who did. I was so proud to be his mom in that moment.
I realize I have a child who is sensitive to his environment. He has always been this way. He needs the right situation to feel comfortable and to thrive. He needs the right teacher who can balance attending to his needs and letting him know he is loved without pushing him before he is ready. This year I have realized I also have a child who is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. He is naturally empathetic, a gift I find extraordinary in children.
My heart melts when I see the progress he has made. He was a child who was once incapable of looking an adult in the eyes and who isolated himself from the group, sometimes giving in to the grief and weight of his separation anxiety. To see him gain confidence and make new social connections is a wonderful blessing. He will always be quirky and different, but I think that makes him even more interesting.
So today I celebrate my complicated, beautiful, introspective, empathetic, giggly, silly six-year-old boy who brightens my life. Happy birthday, Hudson Robert Jones!