Big girls first lesson.

Published March 18, 2018 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a really tricky few days here with big girl, it’s been building up for several weeks. She’s been gradually distancing herself from anything and everything family related. No interest in her sisters, or speaking to any of us, no interest in making the intricate models she’s grown to love, nothing. Her only interest has been school, and school homework/practise. Unusually, I had absolutely no idea why all this was happening. Usually I can identify a specific trigger but as this was a gradual build up (again unusual) I really had no idea what was going on.

A brief chat about something Tuesday quickly escalated to violence and aggression. It became super apparent that we were all still traumatised from big girls violence from last summer/autumn. We all crumbled under the strain quickly.

On Friday big girl came home from school in a state I can only describe as ‘manic’. I’ve never seen her behave that way before, MrFo5 and I were ready to call an ambulance as we were convinced she was having some sort of mental health breakdown. She was laughing hysterically whilst shouting aggressively, demanding me to ring a social worker to take her away, not making sense, incoherent speech, it was scary to see.

4hours I talked with her, and after 4 hours she was a little more like herself again whilst I resembled goodness knows what. It was an exhausting 4hours.

I now know what Overwhelmed looks like. She was completely overwhelmed. There had been an event in school and she’s found it scary and overwhelming. She told me about various other things that she finds difficult in school, noisy dinner hall, relaxed boundaries, and feeling a bit lost at break and dinner times were the most notable. She didn’t tell us before because she doesn’t need us now she has friends (she said). Saturday she remained hostile but was markedly calmer.

Sunday, today, I shared with her a theory I’d had at 3am whilst my brain was frantically still trying to process the previous 48hrs and some of the garbled nonsense she’d blurted out on Friday, particularly about peers talking negatively about their parents.

My theory was that big girl is now actually making friends, she’s socialising with other children, having actual conversations and social interactions, something she’s never experienced before. The friends that she’s socialising with, even though it is a special school, are still way ahead of big girl emotionally and socially. She may be leaps ahead of her class academically, but that’s where it ends.

So in reality she’s learning what its like to be a friend as a 13yr old, without having learnt to be friends as a 6yr old, or a 10yr old so she isn’t familiar with the friendship/peers/being a kid rules. All kids bitch about their parents at school, all kids make out that they have the worst family ever, but most go home, snuggle on the sofa, watch TV, chat, share some Pizza and just generally do the family thing. The bitching stuff in school is just showing off, bravado, but of course, big girl doesn’t know this.

She seems to have a friend that is particularly vocal about her terrible family and how awfully they treat her. Big girl likes her, wants to be her friend so she copies. She doesn’t know the rules though. She doesn’t know it’s just showing off and she has been convinced that this friend really hates her family, really goes home each day and has an awful time. So big girl did the same she said. Only she doesn’t have an awful family that treat her badly, she generally quite likes her family, but to ensure she is just like her friend and can be liked even more by her new friends, she continues the showing off game at home.

I shared my theory with big girl and after a little bit of thinking she told me about some of the other things this friend has said, and photos she’s shown her, that actually show that she is very much loved by her family and very much happy to be with them. She began to see that what the girl was saying, wasn’t necessarily true, just a thing that kids do.

Today she has been lovely, she has played with her sisters, sat with her family, laughed and joked and listened to music with us. It’s been a good day, the best for months.

I’ve encouraged her to begin a new trend at school whereby it becomes cool to openly like your family, because she does, I’m hoping the teachers jump on the idea and use it to bring more positivity in to the classrooms and playgrounds.

Here ends this lesson on ‘showing off’ for big girl, until the next one, there will be many more lessons to come I’m sure.

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3 comments on “Big girls first lesson.

  • It’s pretty stunning you came through this with any degree of success. Huge props to you for moving this crisis to something where Big Girl could calmly discuss something. Your theory makes a lot of sense to me. You’ve mentioned in the past her compliance as a strategy in relationships, so I can see how Big Girl would feel the need to copy her friend, but then lose the connection she gets from her family and have these unmet needs blow up. I think kids from trauma backgrounds have trouble knowing how much conformity life will end up demanding from them. We all conform to some extent, but abusive parents sometimes demand total destruction of the self. I think “happy medium” can feel elusive for a long time. And you are right that she hasn’t had that practice as a younger child making friends and testing out how different she’s allowed to be while still feeling a bond of alliance.

  • I think when you haven’t had friends before, and you finally have them, it is a bit like an addictive drug, you’ll do anything to keep that high going. I can remember investing an enormous amount in my friendships at that age, and the soncequent crash when things went wrong or I couldn’t quite keep up. I think it is brilliant that you have identified what is going on. I had relied excessively on my sister before secondary (very shy and probable autism at primary) at secondary I suddenly didn’t want to know, and only cared about making a good impression on my new friends. It is a learning stage, very painful but she will get through it, with your support. My dd who is not adopted is showing traits of the same pattern, without even being particular shy. Desire to keep up with your peers is a incredibly important part of adolescence, it is working out how to do that and retain your identity as a person with autism. It can be done, and you can value all the ways you are NOT like your peers.

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