Not a Tween


When they were younger

GB has been friends with a neurotypical girl since they were three. They went to nursery school together, took swim lessons together, attended the same gymnastic class. They loved dress-up and dancing. They took hip hop and went roller skating. Our families took day trips to water parks, overnight trips to Six Flags. The girls went to Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice and a Selena Gomez concert together. There were barbeques, parties, and high tea. Our families grew so close that we went on a cruise together last summer and swam with the dolphins. We go to dinner with them most weeks.

Over the years, the girls progressed from coloring sheets we brought to entertain them, through dolls, craft projects, singing Kidz Bop, to Double This, Double That and Mary Mack. Both girls will be ten in less then two months. Double digits at last. Nothing stays the same, but sometimes you don’t notice the little changes as they happen. When you do notice them, it is all at once and the glare can catch you by surprise as it momentarily blinds you.

At dinner last night, it caught up with me. GB’s BFF was a Tween and GB was painfully left behind. BFF received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. She kept to herself, absorbed in the wonders of the internet. GB had made them bracelets and  BFF refused to take it. GB tried to connect with her and couldn’t. She was sure she had done something wrong and tried to make it right. It hurt to watch. Eventually, I brought GB by me and just held her.

On the way home, I cried silently. GB is unable to be a tween. With her developmental delays, it won’t be happening anytime soon. Like most mothers, when she hurts, I hurt.

Laying in bed together, GB asked me what awful thing she had done to make BFF not like her anymore. I told her she had not done anything awful, but was unable to explain what happened so that GB understood it. I can’t change it. I can’t take the hurt away.

Friday nights at Friendly’s was an enjoyable era that may be coming to a close.

9 thoughts on “Not a Tween

  1. I have watched this happen with some of my kids too – and you’re right – it just breaks your heart. There are no words to explain it to them. There is no way to “make it right”. It just is what it is, but it is still so hard to watch.

    One dd decided she wanted to do everything her peers did – even though it was very obvious that she had no interest whatsoever in what they were doing and had no clue WHY they were doing the things they did or had the interests they had. Disaster on so many levels. I see my 14 yo ds repeating that right now and its not pretty. Bottom line – we need to keep them safe.

    I tried finding other Mom’s to set up “friend dates” for some of my struggling kids – matching them up with kids who had some of the same maturity issues as they did – thinking if they had someone who they were more on the same level with, it would be better. I have tried this several times with several different kid combos and every time they start out pretty good, but quickly annoy the crap out of each other. This is very hard for ME to accept. I am a fixer, I want to fix this.

  2. Oh, this is painful. There have been (very few) friends who really stuck by my son (it’s harder with girls, I think). One friend of my son’s is now 24 and doing an MA in disability studies. She visits my son Nick whenever she comes back home on holidays. They became friends in elementary school and she has never lost touch. Another best friend was actually a long-ago caregiver. I hired this young man just to help Nick with his homework after school and hang out. That was almost 15 years ago and now our friend John is like my other son. You might try to ease your daughter’s pain by finding her a big girl friend to hang out with after school. If high schools in your area have volunteer programs, start with that and see if a real friendship emerges. With our children, these things have to be very cleverly constructed, but then authentic relationships develop with time. I have seen this in our family. Good luck!!!

  3. At the risk of sounding horrible toward the BFF, I don’t think the problem is GB’s at all. It was rudeness on the side of the friend. When we have company, my kids know that screen time is not allowed. They will interact and play and have community. If one of my children were to turn down a gift from a friend, there would be consequences later. Our neighbor boy is special. He is in 2nd grade and my daughter is in 3rd, is the youngest in her class, so they are actually the same age. She loves to play with him. They go back and forth between houses and have a grand time. E is neurologically about 5 I would say. The other day something was brought up about him, not in a hurtful way, but in a questioning way (E is also very very small for his age so he looks like he should be in Kindergarten). I explained that E is special and it has delayed physical growth as well. My daughter was stunned and very offended for her friend. She was adamantly opposed to the idea that he is special. She doesn’t see him differently at all and I pray that never changes. I never want E to feel left behind.

  4. Former BFF wouldn’t even take the bracelet that GB made for her? That’s incredibly rude. I hope her mother had a talk with her in private, not that she can force her to be friends with someone she’s no longer interested in, but she needs to know that her behavior was not okay.
    My heart aches for GB.

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