So it begins

Its the first Sunday night of summer vacation and we are all relaxed after a busy-fun weekend.  This time of year is always busy since we have the end of school excitement coupled with our birthdays.

This year, our birthdays were really special.  On Thursday, my wonderful girlfriends took me out to dinner.  It means so much to me that they carved time out of this busy week to make my day. 

Saturday night I surprised Scott a little.  He knew people were invited to come over, but he didn’t realize how far I had sent the invitation.  When Mike came through the door, he was floored.  When Dennis and Scott R. arrived later, it was really a party for him.  A great night for him to spend with a few fun friends.

It’s funny with friends, you know.  There is that part of your brain that wishes everyone was happy and lovely to everyone all the time.  That part that wants everyone to just get along.  This weekend I was also reminded how delicate that balance of friendship can be – that we can love many different kinds of people, but they do not necessarily love each other.

And that is ok.  We don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone will embrace around the dinner table. 

I have to remember that it is ok.

It gave me a certain insight to Lizzi’s stress this school year where her friends are concerned.  For the first time in 3 years, Lizzi had friends at school.  People who looked for her at lunch time, invited her to sleepovers, texted her 20 times a day… Some joy that we were all wondering if she would ever get to experience. 

But then some friends decided to not be friends with each other.  One friend started ‘dating’ another’s boyfriend. Some friends teased another friend. One friend started acting crazy, another friend seemed to be drifting away.

For a kid with difficulty understanding social cues, these friend dynamics are intensely confusing and more than a little bit overwhelming.  She began to feel that her little world was falling apart.  And that it was somehow her job to keep everyone together.

That’s a lot of stress to carry around.  And it really took a toll on her emotionally stability.

Teachers often comment on how much kids grow over the summer, certain that it is the summer sunshine that makes them sprout.  Lizzi seems to have topped out in the growth department but I am hoping that this summer will help her to grow emotionally. 

The nice thing about summer vacation is that the number of people you have around on a daily basis is significantly smaller.  Only a few friends together at a time — rather than a few hundred looking for seats at lunchtime — and a little more adult supervision of interactions. 

Even as an adult, managing friend personalities can be a challenge but at some point you simply remember that we are all adults and everyone will act accordingly. 

But kids are kids. And middle school is probably the hardest time in childhood. 

We have a good foundation.  That is what the last 13 years have been about.  The therapy appointments, the diet, the meetings with teachers to figure out what classroom support was required to make her a successful student. 

So now that she is doing well in the classroom, we need to focus on how to make her successful when the bell rings.  We didn’t make it this far alone and so we have started considering what kind of professionals we will need to turn to for this next stage of development. 

Now that the frantic pace of year end activities are over, it is nice to think about tackling the next challenge.  Time to make some lists, make some calls and move forward.

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