Saturday, 19 February 2011

Friends Forever?

We had some playground politics on Friday. Little Bear was the only child in his class not to receive an invitation to a birthday party.

There are lots of reasons why this was a fairly reasonable thing to do. This is a child Little Bear has hurt in the past, Little Bear has a reputation for being "difficult", and last and by no means least the child concerned obviously does not like Little Bear. However if the parent only knew how much not being invited would upset Little Bear then maybe she would have had a word with me so that I could work out a way to tell him he couldn't go rather than just being ostracised as she made her way down the line in the playground giving out invites. (Note: Little Bear wouldn't cope with a kid's party, I would hate it as I have only one playground buddy, and we would make our excuses anyway - but being asked would mean a lot.)

Later that day Little Bear lost it with the same boy. (Teachers were not aware of the party issue) He very nearly bit him but resisted at the last minute, apologised, said he knew he shouldn't do it and burst into tears. This is major progress for Little Bear who has a fairly basic grasp of his own emotions and very limited impulse control (amongst other problems) and his teacher's recognised this with a special achievement sticker.

At home LB started discussing birthday parties all of a sudden (he would like a dinosaur party and we would be guests), so I casually brought up the subject of birthdays in his class. He told me about this little boy's birthday but said "He said I'm not his friend". Ah I thought to myself, that's why you tried to bite him.

Can I just point out at this point that there is NO excuse for biting or indeed hurting another in any way, and LB is fully aware of this, however for him it is a sign of extreme emotional stress. "I don't know how to handle this, I can't cope!" and then an inappropriate response follows. He doesn't intend to hurt but it doesn't change the fact that it does still bloody well hurt (I am not sure that I would be able to manage with a friend who bit me"!

So it got me thinking, how does one explain friendship to a 4yr old who has emotional delay and suspected ASD? How does one explain friendship to a 4yr old at all? How does one explain friendship to an adult?

I am a fairly straightforward person. I therefore only have two types of friend. I have lots of people with whom I am friendly, I care for them, and they are remembered in my prayers and there are lots of these people. Then there is one other group to whom I shall dedicate this post,  the ones who fit the following criteria:
  • We may have known each other for many years, it may just be months but we are confidants for each other.
  • We may speak daily, weekly, monthly, or annually but when we do meet our relationship is just the same as it was the last time we were together.
  • We know each other so well that we can tell how the other is feeling without being explicitly told, and then we can allow momentary irritation to wash over us, safe in the knowledge that there was no hurt meant.
  • We appreciate every inch of each others personalities and embrace them - even the annoying bits.
  • No matter where we are, near or far, we are in each other's thoughts and prayers.
That's explained it for me but it's taken 30 years on this earth to work it out - my 4 year old has got a while to go yet.

1 comment:

  1. It must be so hard for LB but didn't he do well? You must be so proud of him.
    Yet we hurt when our children hurt and wish we oculd make it easier for them.
    They're always our children what ever age they are!