Help: My Son is Too Innocent and Wants Friends Too Badly

I got a call from the school last Friday to let me know about something that had happened with TJ on the bus. I’m going to respect his privacy and not discuss the precise details of the incident, because he was horrified that he had to tell me what happened, but I want to talk about the circumstances.

TJ smiling on a warm spring day

How do you protect them? Keep those smiles instead of tears?

On Fridays, TJ gets picked up by his Grandma Kitty so they can play for a few hours. After the phone call from the school, I decided I needed to go over there and talk to him. When he found out I was coming over, he spilled his guts to my mother-in-law, and his eyes were red with tears when I walked in the door. He was terrified that I wouldn’t love him anymore. The first thing I said to him was that I loved him very much and I just wanted to talk to him. I would have taken him home right then, but my mother had just brought my niece over to play, so we went into the bedroom and talked privately in there.

TJ was sobbing. He didn’t want to tell me what had happened; he said he was scared to tell me. I asked if he would be less scared to tell me if I told him the school had already called to talk to me about it, but I just needed to hear his side of the story. He was able to wipe his eyes and admit that helped.

He has a friend on the bus who is also in his first grade class. TJ wants so desperately to be friends with him that, when the other kid told him to do something he knew he shouldn’t do, he did it anyways. He told the other kid he didn’t want to do it. The kid told him that he had to. So he did it. This was Thursday. And he got a bus referral written up, and he was called into the office to talk about it the next day. The adult who spoke with him at the office told him that he shouldn’t do anything someone else tells him to do if he knows it’s wrong. My poor boy was so scared that he wet his pants and had to get a change of clothes from the school nurse. But the worst part for him was having to face me.

We talked about what he did, and I told him why it was wrong. I also asked him why he did it if he knew it was wrong, and he said that this kid was his friend, and he wanted to be his friend, so he did it. We discussed how anyone who tells you to do something you don’t want to do is not really your friend.

TJ and this other kid now have assigned seats on the bus – apart from each other. But they are still in the same classroom at school. TJ cried when he agreed that they couldn’t be friends anymore because he doesn’t want to be lonely on the bus. My heart breaks for him, because he wants friends so badly, but these kids on the bus do not seem like the type he should be friendly with. This is not the first problem we’ve had with him on the bus, although this is the first time he’s gotten into trouble himself. He’s on the bus ride home for 45 minutes – I can understand why he craved approval so badly from this kid…

But what happens next time? What if that thing he doesn’t want to do that a “friend” pressures him to do is unthinkable? TJ is so innocent. I don’t know if it’s his Asperger’s or just his age and personality, but he trusts everyone implicitly, and he doesn’t think that anyone should ever do anything bad to anyone else. I try to talk to him about keeping his private parts private, but I confess that I’m terrified that he would let someone touch him inappropriately just so they would be his friend. Just in case, I reminded him about not letting anyone touch his private parts during our talk…because who knows what else his “friend” may have told him to do previously?

There was some more crying as we discussed friendships and boundaries, and how he can always tell me anything, even if he’s scared to. I said he can just tell me he’s scared to talk to me about something, and I’ll help him find a way to say it. Then I told him I loved him, and that I would always love him no matter what he said or did, that even if I got mad at him, I would still always love him…and my sweet boy burst into tears again and said, “That’s such a nice thing to say!” He really was worried I wouldn’t love him. We shared a really big hug, and the tears I’d been holding back started to leak out.

How do you protect a child who can’t seem to comprehend that some people just want to get you in trouble so they can laugh about it? That people aren’t always nice and good, and that friends who don’t respect you enough to accept the word “no” aren’t really your friends? How do you protect the innocence of such a sensitive soul?

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


  1. Wow, your son sounds so sweet and innocent. A very good kid. I’d love if my future child is like him.
    I don’t know much since I’m still young myself, but I think it’s best to teach him that not all people have good intentions… and to let him know of ways to avoid such people so he can try to prevent it from happening again. It might be hard if you do not want him to know about such sad things, but it’s also important in order to protect him that he can find things for himself, and protect himself with knowledge.

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