Hayley’s having a tough time understanding why one of her friends is upset with her, and Tiger Mother’s desperately trying to help resolve the situation.
“I’m not going to school! If you try and make me I’ll…”
The next few words are lost on me as Hayley’s voice is muffled by the duvet which she’s yanked up over her head.
Things have gone wrong again. I feel the old familiar heart-sink as I cast around my brain for problem solving ideas and encouraging words.
“Hayley has struggled socially ever since the start of junior school”
Hayley has struggled socially ever since the start of junior school, the age when children become razor sharp when it comes to noticing if someone is not exactly in tune with the rest of them.
For a long time, she had a very dysfunctional and often spiteful group of girls she called her friends. So many days she’d come home in tears, beating herself up over how yet again she’d somehow managed to upset one of them. It was honestly like watching someone you love trapped in a bad marriage with no idea of how to get out of it because there seemed no alternative. ‘I know they think I’m bottom of the group but it’s better than not having anyone,’ Hayley sobbed in one insightful outburst at home.
Thankfully she finally managed to wean herself away from them and in Year 10 settled in with a small group of friendly girls. Since then she’s been a different girl; it’s been such joy to see her happy.
Until now. The first I heard of it was a text from Hayley yesterday saying something happened at school and urging me to text back quickly to tell her what to do.
She explained that her friend keeps walking away while Hayley’s talking to her, which finally got Hayley so frustrated that she told her not to keep doing it.
Now her friend is refusing to talk to her and has deleted Hayley from her social media networks. I can’t get to the bottom of it, despite Hayley going over and over it.
“Hayley does struggle to get her words out”
Hayley does struggle to get her words out, often. We have to try to find the patience of at least 10 saints to wait while she struggles for the right words, forgets her train of thought, supplies endless unnecessary detail and goes around the houses to get her point across.
It’s very frustrating all round, not least of course for Hayley. None of it helps her self-esteem or her social standing.
It’s long been a problem, something to do with processing skills, word retrieval issues, and her undiagnosed deafness early on when all the neural pathways are being forged by sounds and when the linguistic filing system of the brain is being formed.
Gradually though, Hayley has improved, learning to be aware of the listener’s needs rather than just desperately focusing on making herself understood. I think maturity is the answer; things will continue to improve.
But in the meantime, there’s this current mess to sort out.
I coax her out from under the duvet with the promise of scrambled eggs and a reminder that her beloved faithful hound is waiting downstairs.
“Explain you don’t know why you’ve upset her and you didn’t mean to”
It gives me a few minutes to try to form a strategy. ‘Go up to her and apologise, explain you don’t know why you’ve upset her and you didn’t mean to,’ I say.
‘Done that, she walked away,’ says Hayley, miserable. This had been on the advice of her younger brother Harry, whose counsel she’d actually sought at break time.
‘Okay, well give her some space,’ I tell her, ‘and meanwhile, arrange to do something nice at the weekend with one of the others.’
Hopefully by Monday, things will have blown over. If not, then at least she’ll have had a nice weekend, and strengthening up alternative friendships is no bad thing.
I find myself crossing my fingers and desperately wishing I had a magic wand…