I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this blog entry or not. It is hard to write about and yet I go back to my same belief that if it helps one person or teaches one person then it is worth it. Those of you who read my blog, know me or my family know that my daughter struggles in social situations. Her social delay/struggle tends to fall under the Asperger’s umbrella. In easy terms – she can’t read social cues, “read a room” or fully understand the difference between good attention and negative attention. In her world, negative attention from kids = oh they are my friends giving me a hard time. When one kid is nice to her she tends to hang on to that one person and understand it as her only friend. When this happens she comes across to others as a lost puppy constantly following around this one person or group of people. She thinks these people are her friends. She thinks this because they are the only ones talking to her. Even if it is in a negative way. She desperately wants their approval and attention whether it be positive or negative. It gives her a false sense of having friends. To a person or kid that does not understand her struggle, she comes across annoying, irritating and clingy. I understand that being her mother. It is a constant battle I try teaching her every day. EVERYDAY.
What people don’t know about her is that she is caring, funny, loves music, loves having a good time. She is literal which sometimes can be funny 🙂 She enjoys babysitting, Starbucks, singing, playing games and has a good golf swing.
It is so heart breaking when people we do know don’t get it. We had a situation a while ago when my husband was talking to a friend…She wanted to quick ask her dad something. She kept yelling “Dad. Dad. DAD!” and our friend snapped at her “Don’t you know to be quiet when grown ups are talking?!”. No, she doesn’t get that! She has trouble reading the room/social situations. Yes, she may be a teenager and should know better, but she struggles. Naturally if someone was there with her, she would be reminded to just wait a second and then ask when they are done talking. As her mom it is so hard to ALWAYS have to remind her of that and constantly show her the way. But I love her and would do anything to help her.
There was an incident at school this week with some kids…the kids she thinks are her friends even though they constantly are telling her to go away, leave them alone and are mean. I totally understand the frustration these kids have. I get it. I GET IT. She does not. So in a group text, she received this: (caution – explicit)
At first I was disgusted with the language this kid used and then I was ANGRY. Momma bear claws came out and I was ready to protect my young. My daughter did the right thing by going to someone at school and showing them. The school spoke to the parents and the kid. The kicker…..my daughter was sad that the kid got into trouble. She didn’t understand why she received the horrible treatment, but FELT BAD for this kid. WOW. I wanted to go by the policy of absolutely no bullying. But after all of this, she felt bad he got into trouble. SHE apologized to him for telling on him. WHAT!?!?!
I have learned a lot of things about myself and my daughter over the years. When she was in 3rd grade I didn’t want to believe she had struggles, I cried when she was diagnosed with her difficulties. I CRIED and felt bad. Then someone said to me “I don’t know why you are upset. It has nothing to do with you as a parent. It has to do with how she is wired. You need to be her advocate”. I allowed myself to have the one day pity party and after that I researched and read. I learned about my daughter’s struggles. Let me tell you, it has helped tremendously: learning and helping her vs. yelling and ignoring what we all were seeing. It is a fine line we walk with her – knowing right from wrong vs. what she doesn’t understand socially for her age.
I give this kid grace. I understand the frustration he felt along with this group of kids. I GET IT. But what I don’t get is the treatment and language that is used. As parents it is OUR JOB to teach our children acceptance of others. Being different doesn’t mean bad. Some kids just need a kind word and a chance. Kids think they are part of a popular group – who defines that? And if being mean and tearing down a person’s self worth is part of being popular – why is that right?
No bullying policy is great, but if kids don’t understand what it truly means, then how can it work? People can appear one way to others when deep down they struggle and can’t help it. These kids grasp at any straw to stay afloat and try to fit in. Imagine how tiring and all consuming that can be? Socially you are treading water all day, going to your classes, trying to get to class on time, get homework done, etc.
I can be guilty of judging a book by its cover. But once you actually take the time to read the book, you realize there is so much more there. As a parent or an adult read this blog…teach your kids about acceptance and patience. Sometimes it DOES take a village.