Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wanted: A True Friend

Qualifications: Must be patient, kind, say what you mean, and avoid gossip.  It would be nice if you also enjoy discussing Harry Potter, and dislike American Girl Dolls. 

There, can I post that ad at my daughter's school and see if I get any responses? 

This year of school (3rd grade) is breaking my heart.  It's breaking her heart even more, and I am not sure that is even possible because my heart is being ripped in two and then put through a shredder.  She started the year off with a great friend, a true friend.  He still is a friend, but now it's only after school and maybe once a week because, he is a boy and this is the year that boys and girls tend to separate. She would gladly follow him anywhere, but he is too busy being a boy and rolling in the mud.

So now she is left with the girls, and frankly, girls are mean.  When you are a girl with aspergers they seem even meaner.  They don't say what they mean, they whisper and stare (at everyone) but when you are already prone to anxiety and paranoia it seems to be targeted at you, and hey, you are a little quirky so MAYBE it is targeted at you.  You can try to talk to them but the topics are boring and trivial.  They don't have the same interest as you.  They like to jump rope and play four square and you are clumsy and awkward so you always lose and then once again it seems like they are targeting you.  It just plan sucks! (and I hate using that word, but I just can't find a better one to use.)

My daughter has been at this school since Kindergarten.  I love the school, the teachers are great, flexible, and supportive.  The school motto is something like "teaching the whole child, heart, hands, head."  or some other waldorfy thing.  They have things like Peace tables for conflict resolution, anti-bully policies, an amazing school counselor, a great arts integrated curriculum. From the outside it looks perfect.  But tonight my sweet girl told me she felt like she didn't belong, like she wasn't a part of the school and that she had nobody.  I have to say, from her description of life at school I have to agree.  We are plugging her into every helpful thing we can, social group outside of school, social lunch with girls and a counselor at school, a peer buddy (this is new and I am still hoping it works.) but she is still lonely and disconnected.  

The school has small class sizes, one class per grade.  I used to think that was a good thing but tonight I am not so sure.  Tonight I wonder if we didn't narrow down her choices for friends far too much by going with the smaller school.  Sure, a big school is over stimulation and full of all kinds of crap, but maybe she would have a better chance of finding a friend?  I keep praying every year that some strange nerdy girl will show up as a new student and they will be BFF's 4 EVER but it's not in the cards. 

There are five weeks of school left, I told her to stick it out, keep trying the new peer buddy thing.  Her assigned peer buddy really does seem like a sweet girl.  The peer buddy also likes playing with the other girls though, and so that is what she does with her free time and my daughter doesn't want to participate either because she isn't interested in the game, or because she has been burned before.  Most likely, both. 
I tell her that I got made fun of, that her dad got made fun of, that every adult she admires got made fun of and it's because we are amazing people and something in other people wants to crush that.  I tell her she is special, that God made her, that she belongs in our church, she belongs in our family, she is loved.   She knows this, but it doesn't help.  Not tonight, tonight she doesn't belong in school and for a nine year old that is the biggest thing in the world.  So I keep praying, send a friend, send a friend, PLEASE Jesus send a friend.  The back of my head says, think how strong this young lady will be when she is a woman.  All the women I know who are strong had a similar childhood.  That thought though, it's not very loud because I am her mother and I just want her to have a friend.

Other thoughts:  Take her out of school and home school, switch schools, run away to costa rica with the whole family and be happy island people.  Oh, I have had ALL those thoughts and cycle through them from time to time.  Home School is a great option for some kids, but my kid only believes and listens to things taught by people who SHE determines to be experts on the subject.  I am only an expert on childbirth (I am a doula) and being silly.  My husband is an expert on electronic things, and cooking.  So, you will see we have left  math, reading, writing, social studies, and so on (homework is hell by the way.)  This means that academic school would be the worst uphill battle known to man.  I'm not going there!  I want our family to be a safe, happy place of love.  Home school for us would end that immediately. 

Switch schools, this one is more often coming to mind these days.  The truth is that mean kids are everywhere, and from stories I hear not every school has the support that ours does.  She trusts the teachers, she hates transitions and knows this place, even if right now it's not her favorite. 

Island people, ah..... let me just think on that for a moment.  It was rather cold today.