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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friendship 101

The other night Red hooks up with a couple of boys from his school at the gym.  They have a conversation that lasts oh...about 30 minutes or so, ending with him giving them his cell number because he doesn't have his with him to take their numbers.  One of the boys is a senior who drives, the other a sophomore like Red.  Both young men appear to be exceptionally nice -as young people go these days.

I am so excited about this exchange and the possibility of him developing a relationship with two atypical peers at his school.  As usual, I am more excited than he is.  One of the boys, Ricky (let's call him)  actually texts Red the following day.  I believe the text went something like, "Hey Dude. What's up?" He is reaching out.  The boys had talked about possibly getting together to workout in the future.

I was out most of the day, doctors appointment, lunch with a girlfriend, hiding at Barnes and Noble.  When I return, no meds have been taken.  No healthy food has been eaten, of course.  Nothing productive has been done.
"Did you hear from the boys you met?" I ask.
"Yeah...I think so."
"You think so? Either you did or you didn't."
"Yeah...Ricky texted me."
"Did you return the text."
"No."
"Why not?"
"I don't know.  I guess I wasn't sure it was him."
"Well, how will he know that he reached you if you don't return the text."
"I will," he says with no enthusiasm.
This is the boy who all year long whined about not having any friends at school.

A couple of hours later.  He is lying in bed telling me how unfair it is that his computer shuts down at 10 p.m. due to parental controls.

"Did you return that text yet?" I ask.
"No."
"Why not?"
"I guess I was too busy worrying about Six Flags."  He's been bugging the shit out of us about going to San Antonio to Six Flags for weeks.
"So you're busy worrying about something that's not happening now instead of focusing on developing a friendship that is right in front of you...today.  Did you ever think, maybe these two guys may actually want to go to Six Flags?"
"Fine...I'll text him."
"I don't get it.  Do you really want friends or do you just want to complain about not having friends?"
He has no answer for this one.

I lay in bed asking myself, why do I worry, get so excited, and work so hard to make things happen for him?  I buy into every whimper and complaint, when he himself refuses to do much about it.  This lakadaisical attitude is pervasive in his life.  He takes his jolly well sweet time to do everything I ask him to do, even when it comes to making friends.  It honestly feels like I care about his happiness and well being more than he does.

I know that he isn't the only one.  Developing appropriate social skills is not going to happen overnight.    I made this observation at an Aspergers Meetup pool party the other day.  One young lady spent the majority of the time talking to the parents in the group instead of the other teens.  She talked to the parents about their kids, but didn't interact much with the kids at all.  She talked to the parents about their kids, about getting together with their kids, but didn't spend much time talking to the kids themselves.

"How can you make friends with the kids if you aren't over there talking to them?" I ask her.  We encourage her to go over and join the group of teens at the table where they are actually sitting and talking.  All of us parents are a little taken aback that they are actually conversing.  Red happens to be one of those kids who is actually sitting there engaging in conversation with the other teens.  Of course, I am excited to see him do this.  Now will he make the effort to get together with any of these teens in the future?  Not if I don't plan it.

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