More Lessons in Friendship

Operation Friendship went into effect last week.  G invited another boy to join him and his best friend at his weekly social skill practice.  While G and the new boy were occupied with an activity, Miss L pulled the best friend aside to let him know that if he was feeling overwhelmed or needed a break that he could express that to her.  The best friend (I’ll call him BF)  told her that he loved playing with G and was doing fine.  But they still put a plan in place where if BF felt he needed a break he could put a note in their teacher’s confidential comment box.

On Friday, BF felt he needed that break and put the note into the comment box.  G’s teacher got another boy, E,  excited about playing with G at recess pulled G aside to let him know what was going on.  Tears welled up in G’s eyes but he reportedly held it together well.  She started to coach him on the idea that he and BF were still friends when G cut her off, saying he knew all that because his mom explained it to him.  She asked him to tell her what we’d talked about and he repeated all the ‘rules of friendship’ in a typically scripted fashion.  Which means the words sunk in, but putting those rules into practice was emotional.

E let G pick their recess activity and they played really well together – morning recess was a success!  But at lunch recess, the teacher forgot to put as much time into prepping G, understandably assuming that he would still have their earlier conversation in his head.  At lunch recess, G told his playground aide that he knew BF wanted to play with other boys but that was ok because G wanted to play with those other boys too.  Rather clever manipulation on G’s part.  It took some discussion to make G understand what giving your friends a break really entails and was again very frustrating and emotional for G.

My heart is breaking for G.  It was such a monumental moment when he formed this close friendship with BF.  Watching him learn these hard lessons about relationships is bittersweet.  I know it is wonderful that he has the capacity to learn these things and it is important to teach it this way vs letting him smother BF until their friendship is damaged.  But it is so hard to watch him struggle with this.  I just want to hug him and cry with him.  It’s also a little scary because while I know we’re doing everything we can to teach these lessons in a proactive fashion, there’s no guarantee that it is going to work.  G has such a strong desire to be social but there is the very real possibility that G will suffocate this friendship and then be in a spot where he has no friends again.  We’re in a position where we can teach what we can and support where we can, but the outcome is completely up to G.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 9:37 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Hugs… and thanks for sharing. I feel your pain as my (11 yr old) son recently expressed his sadness about friendships. We are moving this summer and he is approaching the change bravely, knowing where he will go to school and has met some of the kids. However, while we were playing with the dog, he let his concerns about moving leak, saying that he really shouldn’t move. He said that he has a hard time making friends and needs to keep the few friends that he has. When I said something like that the kids in his class like him, he said that maybe they do but they aren’t his friends. They move on. My heart broke.

    Our kids are so brave; I hope I can be 1/2 as brave and give him the support he needs to keep trying… I give you much credit for your (and G’s) recent triumphs and efforts… and wish you continued strength, creativity, patience, and acceptance of a job well done.

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