Breaking up is hard to do

October 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm 5 comments

     When I was in college, I pledged a sorority. I didn’t really want to, but my parents encouraged me with stories of how much their lives were enriched by Greek clubs while they were in college. The short version is that the hazing, something I have never really fully put behind me, changed my college experience entirely. The final straw for me, however, was talking to a pledge sister about the hazing, hoping we could change the experience for the next year’s pledges. “I can’t wait until next year,” she said, “when I can pass all of that hazing on and do it to the next group to come through.” That was it for me; I quit.

     The difference between C’s experience and mine is that my experience was voluntary on my part. C has had no such choice in how kids treat him. Yet recently, I discovered how quickly the tides can turn. C has “infiltrated,” for lack of a better word, a group of two boys and become the third in that group. I have watched this friendship develop with a certain amount of trepidation because of the tightness of the original two combined with an autism diagnosis for one of the boys. I suspect it was just as hard for “Andrew” to make friends as it has been for C, and I was concerned that in this situation, three might be more than a crowd.

     When C came home from school today saying that Andrew told C and “Billy” that he wanted to “break up” with them, I was immediately on alert. C talked about how he, Billy, and Andrew were playing a game, and Billy started to tease Andrew a little bit. C apparently joined in the teasing against Andrew, and from his description of the event to me, I’d say it was with a certain amount of joy.

     Whether C relished the new-found feeling of being tight enough with someone that the two of them could be against a third, or if he’s just so happy to have a friend that he will follow whatever comes along I’m not sure. What amazes me, however, is how quickly this can happen. In a span of days, C went from being the odd one out to the one excluding another. I was nothing short of stunned, having never seen this type of behavior from C before.

     I suppose it feels so unusual for C to be on the giving instead of the receiving end that consideration of another’s feelings just flew out the window. It’s all harmless playground drama for most kids, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that has hurt C so much in the past. The irony of the fact that Andrew also has a special needs diagnosis is not lost on me. I’m hopeful C will quickly realize that being on either end of the teasing specturm is sad and make nice with Andrew once again. And in a world where three is almost always a crowd, two boys with autism and a third – who is also not your average joe kid – might make for more than one friendship group can survive.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Part of something Alone time

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christina  |  October 14, 2009 at 9:11 am

    wow! interesting. it’s cool he shared the info with you.

  • 2. therocchronicles  |  October 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Oh boy. Interesting conundrum. Here’s the thing that’s so different about this situation versus other parents — YOU! As C’s parent you know how much it hurt him to be on the other side of this situation and are teaching him to be a better friend. How interesting that it has happened. What is also wonderful is that he was able to TELL you all about this – so you can help him figure it out!

  • 3. lynnes  |  October 14, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Teaching friendship/empathy skills is so difficult. Because of the way my G is treated by his peers, I want him to be more understanding to others in his situation and extend the hand of friendship to someone who is in a similar situation. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case and instead it seems he’s so happy to be included he’ll do whatever it takes to stay with the group. I often think kids are savages that turn on each other for showing the slightest weakness! We’re still working hard to teach G that to expect others to accept his differences means he has to be accepting of the differences in others. We’re making some progress, but it’s a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of deal.

  • 4. Angie  |  October 15, 2009 at 6:14 am

    I remember those days well…and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth!
    As for C, the fact that he told you shows how big his heart is…most kids wouldn’t even think twice about such playground drama, you know?
    Hugs to you both!!

  • 5. Marcy  |  October 15, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Hi Darcy,

    We had the same with my son just a few weeks ago, where I was shocked to find out he had become the aggressor. The story seems to be that a 3rd child told him it would be funny if he “picked on” another kid. D, wanting to be funny so badly (but has little understanding of humor) and who takes EVERYTHING literally, took on the task and “bullied” (for lack of a better word) the other child. I think he knew he did something wrong, and he then lied about it to us (something else I didn’t know he could do), by telling us the other child did it to him. There was a punishment (he lost his ipod) and we had several long discussions about how hurting anyone, whether it is their body or thier feelings is ALWAYS wrong, followed up by the lying is ALWAYS wrong too, discussion. Since then, I see him trying really hard to be more truthful (Mom – you might be mad, but I didn’t finish all my homework yesterday – I forgot one question. I just wanted to tell you the truth!)

    The point I wanted to make here was that I went into the school when this happened and talked to one of his teachers (who always seems to look out for D) and she listened and had a smile from ear to ear! Puzzled, I asked her why she was so happy about D being the aggressor and she said this to me. “If he was so socially compromisedt, he’d be sitting on the sidelines avoiding all the kids.” She was so happy to see him right in the middle of all this, and getting to be on BOTH sides of the dynamic. “How else is he EVER going learn these things”, she asked me, “if he doesn’t ever get to experience them?” GREAT Point – Thanks Mrs. T !!!


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