In Noah's Social Studies class yesterday, the kids were divided into two teams for a mock debate. Team assignments were random; no one got to choose their side.
The two teams? Patriots vs. Loyalists, set to debate the pros and cons of the American Revolution.
Guess which team Noah was on. Or more accurately, he was supposed to be on, until he freaked out, melted down, and refused to participate.
We got an email from his teacher afterwards explaining what happened, and two sentences in I knew exactly what was coming. WHY OH WHY DID YOU NOT SEE THAT COMING?
He couldn't be a Loyalist. Loyalists were the ENEMY. Loyalists were the Bad Guys. Even just pretending to be a Bad Guy makes you a Bad Guy, at least while you're doing the pretending.
His teacher called it a temper tantrum, but really, it was probably more along the lines of a panic attack.
It's interesting that this happened so close to Halloween, given all those years Noah refused to wear a costume for similar anxiety-tinged reasons: Pretending to be someone or something else means you must not be yourself anymore. Putting on a costume represented a fundamental change in who he was, and he was not okay with that, even if it was just for a few hours and meant free candy. He wanted to stay Regular Noah. Original Noah.
It's a rigidity that's stuck with him -- he wants everything be the "original" or "regular" version of itself. He'll accept a modification so long as it can either be undone, or if he has a crystal clear mental image of what the "before" was. He's actually gotten a lot more flexible in this area, and developed some good coping tricks. (I do a lot random Google image searches for him: what did a real Delorean look like, pre-restoration photos of Mount Vernon, and countless tiny costume/set details from movies that might have changed in sequels or remakes, or just are slightly different in "real life.")
But Noah as a Loyalist? On the wrong side of history, the enemy of George Washington? No. No thank you very much, he'll just go sit in a corner and be Original Noah.
And that's exactly what he did, unfortunately. He was given multiple chances to cool off, calm down and rejoin the class, but he remained adamant in his refusal. He will not receive any credit for the debate project.
While I feel like it was a completely avoidable situation (you know how his brain works! you know the Founding Fathers are his jam! just "randomly assign" him to the Patriots and watch the debate rap battle get LIT!), I understand why the teachers couldn't just cave in and switch his team assignment in the face of an inappropriate, disruptive tantrum. Not the best optics there. I tried to talk to him about it after school, raising the idea that not all Loyalists were "bad guys," they just had different opinions. Maybe some of them just didn't want people to die in a war! That's not a bad opinion to have! Right?
(I think I started to break his brain with that trail of thought, so ultimately I just reminded him about the importance of keeping himself calm and flexible at school and dropped the whole thing.)
The good news, though, is that Noah has never been so excited about his Halloween costume. He's going to be Marty McFly, in dress and in spirit. Mostly Regular Marty McFly, from the first movie (red vest, jean jacket, calculator watch), but he added a Hoverboard from the second movie. It might not be completely completely authentic, but Noah's super happy with it. He's an Original, after all.