Social Currency on His Feet


A few weeks ago, Ryan said he wanted a pair of Air Jordans — a by-product of sitting with a different group of kids at lunch, and wanting to be like them.

Veronica and he browsed the Nike Web site and found the perfect pair — a retro model the was kinda/sorta in San Jose Sharks colors. It was even on clearance. Veronica explained that Ryan would have to pay for them — not a problem since virtually every birthday and Christmas and graduation check he’s ever received has gone straight in the bank, for lack of a material want on which to spend it.

Ryan forgot about it for a few days, then asked when his Air Jordans would arrive. So we placed the order.

Veronica was stunned — and thrilled — at how excited he was when the box showed up on the doorstep. She snapped this picture and sent it to me.

Ryan is certainly much more aware of his peers these days: how they dress, how they talk, the things they’re interested in. He wants to fit in. He wants to be liked. He wants to have friends.

That wasn’t always the case. And though there was a certain ease in floating through social situations on a cloud of not caring at all how one is perceived, I think it’s safe to say we are pleased by these new developments.

Just that he followed through on his wish for a certain pair of basketball shoes, because he knows the social currency they bring, represents progress. Since they arrived, he’s talked about how he can’t wait to show them to his classmates and see how they react. (It’s been raining the last few days, so the big debut will have to wait for next week.)

We are seeing so many changes in Ryan: physical, emotional, intellectual, social. Like most boys his age, he is a ball of jumbled thoughts and feelings. It’s confusing for him. Hell, it’s confusing for us. Sometimes we feel like it’s all we can do to hang on for the ride, applying the brakes where we can to slow things a bit and help him figure it all out. It’s wonderful. It’s terrifying. I imagine it’s not that different from the parenting experience of neuro-typical kids this age, but I have nothing to compare it to.

This period will test the foundation of support that has been built over a decade-plus: the therapy, the special-ed, the social-skills groups. All of it has been to prepare Ryan for this time in his life, when he’s ready to take the tool kit he’s assembled and venture into the social jungle of middle school. There will be bumps. There will be bruises, but hopefully nothing more serious. There will be awkward and confusing moments..

If a pair of teal Air Jordans can help him navigate that treacherous path, then I’m glad he has them on his feet.


5 thoughts on “Social Currency on His Feet

  1. It is a double-edged sword when they become aware of their peers and wanting to fit in, isn’t it. Mine started tuning in to his peers about a year ago, and there have been some interesting developments from it. Two-steps-forward-one-step-off-to-the-side kind of stuff… 🙂


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