My middlest child is a wonderful girl. She is smart and well-read. She can carry on a meaningful conversation with an adult or a three year old. She has a vibrant imagination. She likes to join in a group – any group (unless of course that group is running or doing something physically taxing). She has a beautiful smile, a bouncy hair cut and an unusual talent for knowing the lyrics to lots & lots of songs – and singing them loudly while listening to her ipod. Or in the shower.
But she doesn’t have a friend.
Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. I’ve seen this day coming for a while now. A few things changed at school for her last year – good things – but they’ve made it harder for her to find a place where she belongs in the social mix of children. She’s got her nose in a book A LOT which doesn’t help in the whole ‘finding & keeping friends’ department. She is admittedly a bit of a dork – she likes to do things that aren’t always ‘cool’. She’s also very dramatic and wears her emotions on her sleeve and that can be tricky for people of any age to handle on a regular basis. So even though she has so many good qualities, they aren’t coming out in ways that kids her age notice.
She’s at the age where friends start taking on a big role. But she is never invited to birthday parties or sleepovers. The phone isn’t ringing for her. When I ask her who she ate lunch with the answer is often a book. When I ask her who she played with on the playground the answer is often that she tried to join in with some girls but wasn’t really part of the action. Or that she was on the swings by herself.
To make matters even worse, she’s starting to lie to me about it. I think she’s doing it as a defense mechanism – she doesn’t want to tell me the truth because she can tell I’m worried. Or she doesn’t want to say the truth out loud because she’s embarrassed and it hurts too much. Or she doesn’t want to admit that she has made a few mistakes that are making her problems even worse. I’m not sure why, but she’s digging herself into a very deep hole and I’m at a loss on how to help her out of it.
I’m not one of those hovering parents that tries to do everything for their child. I’m a big believer in letting them make some of their own mistakes. We learn from our mistakes. We become better people by overcoming difficulties. But I think this is getting too big for her to handle on her own. I have to jump in but I don’t know where to start.