I had one of those conversations with my sister where I knew I was being overly sensitive and prickly, but I couldn’t seem to dig deep and find the maturity I needed. She called because her three-year old daughter was invited to her first playdate by a preschool friend. At first, I said all the appropriate things with all the right inflections so as to share her excitement. I was totally lying, because inside I was seething with jealousy about how easy it all is for her, but I did a good job of not letting on.
Until the end of the conversation when she said she had to call me to share her excitement because she knew I’d understand. I didn’t have much ‘fake it’ left in me so I told her honestly that while I was very excited for her (see – faking it!) I was also a little jealous. She pointed out, rather huffily, that I had called once (once!!) to share excitement about G being invited on a playdate, as if to say it was only fair that she be able to do the same.
And she’s right, she should be able to share these things with me. I should have been able to look past my feelings to be happy for her. But it was such a low moment for me. It made me see that she doesn’t really get how huge it is to have your autistic child invited to a friend’s house. Or just how huge it is for your autistic child to have a genuine friend. I could state exactly how many playdates G’s had by reviewing this blog, as I have an entry for each and every one of them because they were major events in the G household. Actually, I don’t even need to go that far, I can recall the events from memory (all three of them) because they were that huge. And really, the first was before we got an official diagnosis, the second was when we returned the invitation but haven’t been invited back since (making it a pity playdate) and the third was when I offered to babysit another school parent’s child.
I apologized and tried to explain my feelings. She was still insulted but I think she started to understand, just a bit. She got quiet and commented that there is another little girl with Down Syndrome in the class who has taken a shine to her daughter. She said maybe she’d offer to host the playdate and invite this other little girl as well. I hope she does – she has no idea how much it might mean to the other family.