These past few weeks have been a bit crazy in our home. With Skye getting back into school and trying to get the right accommodations for her, Cayla starting all day, everyday kindergarten and Preston starting preschool for the first time. We have had some ups and downs, but more ups lately. Joel and I are amazed at the growth we have seen in the kids in the (almost) year that they have lived here. More on that later, today something is weighing heavily on my heart. Today we will focus on Skye and her social skills. Last year we were always hearing about kids being mean, getting notes home about Skye’s behavior, etc. This year her teachers are saying she is adjusting as expected and doing great. There have been a couple of days where she comes home and has something bad to report, but mostly she is doing great. The school is FINALLY giving her ability level work for homework and there have been no fights this year about completing homework, sometimes she is working on it while waiting for me to pick her up! She is understanding different concepts and feeling good about her ability.
The social side is just as good. There have been multiple kids that Skye identifies as friends, even wanting play dates! One play date was set up for yesterday. Joel and I were so excited because this was to be Skye’s first play date and it was to be with a girl that she had problems with all last school year and summer so we were glad to see that they were working out their problems with each other. The plan was to pick the girl up from school and spend the evening with us before dropping her and Skye off at a shared extra-curricular activity.
During the school day yesterday Cayla had a doctor appointment and I was signing her into school when I saw Skye in the nurses office. She was complaining of a headache and when she looked up and saw me she started crying. I was so confused. Luckily I didn’t have anywhere to be so I just stood with Skye and hugged her for a couple of minutes and then we talked. She said that Cayla wasn’t at recess and her friend can’t come over. That is too much change for my girl and she was barely holding it together. I was super proud of her that she went to the nurse and didn’t have a breakdown in class. I asked her if she was feeling really overwhelmed and sad, she said she was. I told her that we could try again for a play date next week. Then Preston and I watched as Skye got one more big hug and went back to class.
After school we did our normal stuff until it was time for the extra-curricular activity. Skye said she didn’t want to go. I was very surprised but encouraged her to go (because I wanted an hour to just read or relax while she was in there, lol). I also thought that maybe she was nervous about seeing the girl she was supposed to have a play date with. We went and she had a great time. At the end, the mom of the girl asked if she could talk to us as there was a reason the play date was canceled. My heart dropped, I was so nervous (especially since the mom wanted to talk to us outside) and I was (honestly) wondering what Skye did. Imagine my relief when Skye didn’t do anything. So, some back story: This girl was at the pool all summer when we were and she would follow Skye around, and Skye would follow her around and just poke each other like pre-teen frenemies will do. So we told Skye to stay on one side of the pool away from this girl if Skye couldn’t handle not poking at her. Well, then this other girl came over by Skye. Joel was there and firmly but respectfully told the girl to leave Skye alone.
So yesterday we come to find out that after this had happened the girl went home and told her mom that things that didn’t happen, did happen making it seem like a much bigger deal than it was. The mom agreed to the play date only to cancel it once she realized that it was “that Skye” (I mean, really how many Skye’s are there?) So when the mom was telling me what her daughter told her, I was trying to quick process how I should respond. Skye was standing right next to me and hearing all that the mom was saying and I could tell she was getting upset, and honestly so was I. It is hard to hear someone lie about your family and not want to respond in kind. I took a deep breath and said that while I was there and that is not what I saw, if daughter believed that to have happened I understand the mom’s concerns. I suggested maybe we plan play dates at parks until the mom could get to know my family better. Mom thought that was a good idea. The daughter stayed inside the extra-curricular avoiding the whole conversation. At the end, Skye and I left to go home. Skye was fuming and upset in the car. I asked her why she was made and she said that people shouldn’t lie about others, that what the girl said happened would never happen. I told her that I agree and that people shouldn’t lie but we can’t control what others do/say. When we got home Joel and I sat down with her and talked before she showered. When I went to tuck her in we processed it more.
I told her she had a couple of choices as to how to respond.
1. She could be made and decide not to be friends with the girl, but then she would never learn to repair relationships as everyone makes mistakes.
2. She could pretend this never happened and continue to be friends but that would not be being respectful to herself. Skye said that she considered this to be the “Nice” response, but I said that being “nice” is great, but you can be nice and clearly set your expectations for others on how to treat you. That if she choose this option, the other girl would not know that Skye didn’t like this and didn’t want this to happen again.
3. She could try and get even with the girl and start spreading lies or rumors about her, but then she would not be any better than the other girl.
4. She could kindly and respectfully address the situation with the girl (I gave her some words to use, see below) and let her know that Skye really did want to stay friends with her, but that this behavior would not be ok in their relationship. I reminded Skye that everyone lies, and when people lie it’s not really about the truth anymore its about how they feel. We tried to imagine how the girl would feel about the situation this summer to figure out why she would lie. We decided that maybe she felt left out since Skye had people to play with (her family) and didn’t know what words to use to ask to play or she was jealous. In dealing with people that lie, it is important to focus on the feeling not the truth (otherwise you will be arguing about the truth forever, because if you lie for long enough you start to believe it is true, I reminded Skye of some lies in her past and how she believed them because she told them over and over to herself). I told Skye some following word options to use if she choose this option:
“Girl’s name, I understand why you felt like you had to tell your mom what you did, but I know what I saw. I still really want to be your friend, but we can’t make up stories about each other or our families. You decide if you still want to be my friend and agree that we will both be honest. I’m going to go play on the swings, if you want to be my friend come on over”
Ok, so that’s a LOT to remember for my girl, so I re-framed it like this:
This is a great chance to show the girl the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. We could get mad, get even, or ignore but that would not be being honest to yourself. Show forgiveness and give her the chance to try again, even when you don’t feel like it.
I shared with her that when the mom was telling me this stuff I wanted to scream and yell and swear, but that would not have helped and not have showed Jesus’ love, so I had to think of a kind way to still respect myself and show love.
This is definitely a first for us and I’m on pins and needles waiting for Skye to get home from school today to see what happened. I could hardly sleep last night because I was unsure of the way I responded and what to do if today went poorly. This is all new for us and I guess I just never expected it to be so hard. Not looking forward to the teenage years. How can I teach something to my child (like showing forgiveness and Jesus’ love) when that is still so hard for me and my first gut response is ANYTHING but that! Tips and Ideas from those that have dealt with this would be greatly appreciated!