Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friendship slump.

I think I'm going through a rough patch.
Scratch that- I know I am.

Everyone has a story of friends that have flaked out once your child's been diagnosed- and it does seem that parents of children with disabilities often are limited in their friendships to other parents of children with disabilities... and I guess I've been examining my own friendships.

I've had many acquaintances, but have always preferred close friendships with a few select people over large groups. Perhaps I chose incorrectly.

My friends all have children, most of them are around Jaysen's age. Aside from the obligatory birthday parties, he is rarely invited over to play. Some of them have never invited him over. When I have initiated the playdate, I'm usually met with excuses of anything from "I forgot he made plans with Timmy", to "she's not into playing with boys", and my personal favorite "Yes- let's go out. Oh, the kids? Um, I'll have to check our schedule."

And it's not the kids, they're really happy to see each other and play. Jaysen's very social, and will pretty much play with anyone. I think that's pretty true for most 6 year olds though. And if it was Jaysen, I would hope that these people- my friends - would have the decency to talk with me about it. I mean think about it. If Jaysen's stimming stands out to another kid, what better opportunity to explain awareness and acceptance to that child?

We have a friend that does have us over, but is very opinionated, and will tell me how I should be parenting in the same breath she's "not being judgemental".
After our last playdate, I was told, "that went really well," and then she proceeded to analyze everything Jaysen had done since we arrived, and how I should have handled it.
...Did you expect it not to go well? Oh right, because my son has a disability. Sorry, I forgot.

I recently received a phone call from an old friend who sort of understands this dilemma. His brother was in a car accident, and he said that family and friends had turned their backs on his brother, so he was aware that things like this do happen.

The friendship ended on less-than-wonderful terms (I was very hurt), but bygones are bygones, we've both gone through some life-affirming things, and it was actually very nice to catch up.
It was cool to compare points in our lives that have changed, and those that hadn't. Scottie knew Jaysen briefly, when he was much younger. Although it has been years, he remembered taking Jaysen places like the pumpkin patch and the cider mill. It was refreshing to talk to someone who wasn't stressed out about (or rather because of) Jaysen.

I told him about Jaysen's diagnosis, our issues with the school, how big he's gotten, and some of the hysterical things that have spurt forth from his mouth. It was liberating to talk to someone who understood the feeling of lonliness a person can get when *gasp* disability is mentioned. It was nice that Jaysen was just Jaysen, not Jaysen-the-volatile-terror.

I don't know what made Scottie call me, or if the past history will eventually resurface and we'll end up hating each other again, but as I said, it was nice to talk to someone who wasn't all wound up.

I've always considered a friend to be someone who is supportive, through thick and thin. Sort of like a spouse without the "spousey duties". Well I guess that's a crappy analogy considering I'm divorced. Okay, forget that idea. You know what I'm getting at though.

Jaysen will be starting a new school this year, and I have high hopes that we will both make new friends. I may not know how or when to end "toxic friendships", but I am hoping that this new school's reputation precedes itself. I am told this school is more tolerant of diversity (including disabilities), and the atmosphere, the parental and student body, are more accepting of everyone's differences. I sincerely hope this is true.

Here's to new beginnings.

9 comments:

Maddy said...

Indeed.

I have a half a dozen 'old' friends.With one exception they are all childless and not by choice. We meet up once a year when I go 'home.'

I have a similar number of close friends in America, a handful. All have children and very busy schedules. We meet in the evening childfree.

I have several very good friends who also have children with disabilities and we abound in playdates as a result.

As long as I keep my life cut up into chunks, it all goes swimmingly , but I don't mix them up or.....I'd probably be completely alone.

I really like to think that I'm wrong.
Best wishes

Tanya Savko said...

I can certainly identify with friends' reluctance to dealing with autism. The avoidance, the excuses. Thanks for writing about it.

On a more positive note, I've really been enjoying your blog and am glad I discovered it. I wrote about you for the Arte y Pico award :)

mommy~dearest said...

Aww...thank you Tanya- you're too sweet.

Jackie said...

"not being judgemental" actually translates into "more judgmental than the average person"

(just so you know)

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Several of my friends from my pre-kid days actually ended up having children with disabilities themselves, so while schedules keep us apart, they are very understanding and inclusive. I have more problems with the families of my daughter's friends where there aren't any special needs kids in the mix, and it's harder to do combined playdates.

Bobbi said...

I feel the same way a lot of the time. I'm scared for when Parker starts Kindergarten. I wish we lived close, we could hang out.

I nominated you for award at my blog, check it out. Bobbi

Casdok said...

Yes heres to new beginings for you all :)

LAA and Family said...

"I've always considered a friend to be someone who is supportive, through thick and thin." That's how I view friendship also and I've been hurt the past few years by discovering that most of the people in the group I used to pal around with don't seem to share that philosophy. I shouldn't complain though, there are always opportunities for new friendships to come along, and I have discovered that there are a few good loyal friends out there.

kristi said...

I totally understand. I posted about being lonely not too long ago. It is hard. :(