Although we know it's inevitable...it's hard to watch your child go through their first broken heart. In this case, it is my child's best friend, whom I love like he's my own. Alex...is the manly man kind of 13 year-old boy. He has some athletic ability. He's tall and handsome. He can be goofy and silly when he's in his comfort zone, but at school he is generally busy trying to fit in and not call too much attention to himself. He is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum.
He's been crushing on this girl since about the 3rd or 4th grade. She's come to his birthday parties, and always been really nice to him. Since middle-school, their friendship has waxed and waned and come back again, waned and come back again. This year however, he was all to pleased that they now share a class together! What's even better than that...their lockers are right next to each other. Woo hoo! Score!
So this girl let's call her Liza, has been smiling, saying hello and generally being nice to Alex so far during this school year. They are now in 8th grade. Meanwhile, in his head...they are pretty close to "going out" with each other, only she has no idea about this. Why? Because he has never expressed his feelings to her. He just hopes that she knows through osmosis.
Alex's biggest fear has been that she may somehow get a boyfriend before he actually works up the nerve to let her know how he feels. And on this day...his biggest fear comes to reality. They are in the hallway near the lockers and she says to her friend something along the lines of, "This is my boyfriend." And she's not talking about Alex!
So after school, I am waiting outside for over a half an hour for Alex to come out. I call inside to his tracking teacher. She tells me she was in the middle of a counseling him about a girl situation. He makes it down the hallway and towards the front door when he stops to talk to the Vice Principal. They are not used to seeing Alex unhappy. When he finally reaches the car...the sadness is palpable. As soon as he gets in the car, he lets go with deep sobs.
"My life is over! I can't believe she has a boyfriend! What am I going to do now? What if she kisses him? I just couldn't take that! I don't know what I would do!"
Meanwhile, his brother who is somewhere deeper on the spectrum says...
"You don't need her Alex! She didn't like you anyway! Why do you like her?"
Not exactly what he wants to hear.
And then Blue, Mr. Practical says...
"I told you relationships in middle school are a bad idea. It never lasts and you're just going to get your feelings hurt. Just wait till she breaks up with the guy and then you can go out with her in high-school. That will be better. I told you to wait till high-school anyway. And dude...she didn't even know you liked her because you never told her."
There goes that brutally honest Aspie of mine. Yeah...that's what he wanted to hear --sobering reality while he's falling apart.
I have to chime in of course, "Alex --I'm sorry that you're feeling so bad. I know it's hard. Just remember, you can still be her friend. You can still smile and say hello and talk to her."
He's deep in sadness and none of our advice means much at this point. He goes right back to...
"What if she kisses him?! I couldn't take it! I don't think I'll ever be happy again."
This is so amazing coming from him. He is usually so macho...so tough and go with the flow. My heart aches for him. His mom is not home when we get there. I call her and tell her what's going on so that she can talk to him as soon as possible.
The following morning on our way to pick them up I tell Blue, "People don't want to hear 'I told you so' when they are hurting. They want to know that you understand how they feel and give them some kind of encouragement.
When Alex gets in the car Blue says to him, "Dude...I'm sorry you're upset. It's going to be o.k. Just remember friendships last longer than relationships. You can always be her friend." Alex's brother chimes in, "That's right! You don't need her!"
As each day passes...he seams to feel a little better. By that Friday morning I ask him, "Are you going to the dance tonight?" Days before ...when life wasn't worth living, he didn't think he could go. He says, "Yeah I guess I'm going."
We all break out clapping in the car...applauding his decision to move on and have fun with his friends. And they do just that!
Editorial Note: The names have been changed in this story...to protect the broken-hearted.
Your comments make my day!