Skip to main content

A friend or not a friend, that is the question

Kid's birthday parties and beer.

Some combinations are
just made for each other


Don't mess with
perfection
This week, I wrote a very awkward email. It was one of those situations that I tried to explain my kids to someone who may not have been aware about the complexities of their Autism or even knew that they have Autism.

#2's birthday is this week. He is not the kind of kid that does well with big parties. He usually gets overstimulated and melts. He is the small intimate gathering kinda guy, but he does best one on one. He is happy if he has someone to talk to, about the things he wants to talk about.

So when I asked him the question, "do you want a big present or a party?" he replied, "I want a small party and a small present." Ok. We can handle that. I asked him to make a list of his friends that he wanted to invite. He came back to me with a list of five kids.  One was our good friend's kid, two were little Mexican kids who had limited English and one was a kid he used to be friendly with, but I remembered there was an altercation that #2 caused a couple years ago, and I don't remember how it resolved. The last kid, was the crazy one from his class party three years ago that tried to climb on our roof while his father ignored him. He was probably the oldest kid in the grade and all the kids looked up to him, including #2. The problem was, I wasn't sure if the last two kids even liked #2. I said to him, "I didn't know that you were friends with them" and he replied "oh sometimes we are. I did manage to get their attention on the playground a few times." Great. Just great. Suspicions confirmed.

We then had a conversation about what constitutes a friend and the differences between "getting someones attention" and being friends. I'm really not sure what sunk in, but of course he responded, "Of course I know that Momma." Yes, Mr. Aspy, of course! You know everything!

I sent a note into school for his aide and asked who his friends were. Later that day, I got an email from his teacher listing five kids that weren't even on his original list of five. Great. No cohesion what so ever.

I decided to find out about the two kids in question myself , so I got out the student directory and wrote awkward emails to the moms:

Hi,  I'm writing because #2's birthday is approaching and we are planning a little Birthday bus;  I take him a a few of his friends to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and then for ice cream. He told me he wanted your son to be a part of his 5 friends. As you may know, #2 has Asperger's and interpersonal relationships are hard for him. He has a difficult time understanding the foundations of friendship and often mistakes any type of attention, negative or positive as a gesture of friendship. This is a little awkward, but, I'm not even sure if your son likes #2 the way that he says he does and I'm afraid that he will get hurt if this isn't handled properly. We are planning to go on 9/27 for the afternoon showing, the time hasn't been announced yet. If your son does not want to go, I'd prefer that we tell him that you have a conflict because we don't want to trigger a meltdown that may last for days. I appreciate your honesty and understanding the delicacy of the situation, Shari

After writing that email, I had my moment. Parents of special needs kids know what that moment is; it's when we have to step back from our daily "getting through the day" routine and acknowledge some painful truths that exist about our children that we can't fix. The truth is, that unless I had asked him about who his friends were for the party, I wouldn't have realized there was a discrepancy between the friends he thinks he has, and the friends he really has. When he is home, he is a volcano spewing facts and plays with his siblings the antagonistic way that siblings do. His interpersonal  relations with his classmates isn't even on the radar. 

I did get an email back from one of the moms. She thanked me for the email and let me know that her son does indeed consider #2 one of his friends and he'd be delighted to join him for his party. And then she offered her help if it was needed. Whew.  Thanks you for giving me that piece of mind. My kid isn't entirely delusional.  Kudos to you mom of kid in question. Well played.

I haven't heard back yet from the mom of the crazy kid. I can only imagine her staring at the computer screen not knowing how to tell me her kid doesn't like mine without sounding like an insensitive a-hole.

I'd like to tell her, it's ok. It's perfectly fine if your kid and my kid aren't buddies. We don't usually like every person that we come in contact with in our lives. The lesson is, that we teach our kids to be cordial to people and treat every person as a potential friend. If we have common interests, then we can become friends and if we don't, that's ok too.  I also know that he is a hard one to be friends with. I get it.

I am just happy that he has some kids that he calls "friend" and they call him that too. That's a great start.

Comments

  1. I think that's fabulous that he has a friend and it IS mutual!! So exciting! I think bday invitations are some of the scariest things we have to do as parents... I can only imagine how those fears are amplified w. your boys.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think and what you've experienced.

Popular posts from this blog

Diary of a music mom

Since fifth grade, both #1 and #2 have been playing instruments; #1, the saxophone and #2, the trombone. #1, Autism classic, plays the very same saxophone that I started on in fifth grade. I  teach him daily and we go once a week to our new sax teacher and they work on jazz. #2, the aspy is a lot more autonomous and he doesn't require my attention when he practices and gets by with his weekly skype lessons from grandpa and his private teacher.

Every year, our school district hosts a solo and ensemble festival. The kids have roughly eight weeks to choose a listed piece and then perform it with an accompaniment. Every year, I make the boys participate even though it means I need to spend more time with #1 to make sure he doesn't sound like a moose in the wild and more like a saxophone player.

It always turns out like this:
I choose the new piece and we trudge through it slowly and painfully.
I second guess my choice because I think it's too much, too hard, too intricate for …

My Heart Will Go On

At the end of the school year, the teachers usually host an event to give thanks to the many parents who helped out during the school year. When I went to #1's school, they had an elaborate spread and the highlight was when the sign language club performed a few songs.  #2 & #3's school, had their volunteer appreciation breakfast last week, and I was happy that I was able to bring the twins with me.

Everything was great. There was food, coffee, juice and some awesome moms. But, then the music teacher brought in the fourth grade class and they were all holding their recorders. Great. One kid practicing the recorder at home is painful enough.  Forty kids playing recorder in a quasi-controlled group is just one way the music teacher can express her feelings about not getting any holiday presents or special accolades during teacher appreciation week. F-U people, I teach your talentless kids and it is a thankless and painful job.  I'm going to let you know how much I apprec…

World Autism Awareness Month: A Time To Focus On Our Similarities.

Tomorrow, April 2, is World Autism Awareness day. I thought about all the things I could say about awareness and then I realized that the people who read this blog know all this stuff. With the latest release from the CDC about the number of children diagnosed with Autism now at 1:68, there will be a day that everyone will know or be related to someone with Autism. And unfortunately,  It is only when something affects everyone is when things will change.

I decided to re-share excerpts from my post: We're More alike than you think. The post was inspired by Willman Stillman and my self-observations. Everyday I look at my children and realize I have more Autistic qualities that I realized. I have also realized that it not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe melting and throwing myself on the ground if I can't find my keys may be over-doing it a bit, but many things are really a core part of me; like my ability to memorize information. It comes in handy on Black Friday for sure.