Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finding Support in all the Right Places

There are lots of people in the world who will judge based on their own perceptions before learning the situation.  As a mom, often, the most difficult of critics are the other moms.  However, occasionally you find that one person who understands and loves your child just as much as you do and vows to support your child in the way you would, yourself.  I discovered one of those people recently.

Missy invited her bff to spend the night on a Friday night.  She did, and the girls had a blast together.  It was 4th of July weekend so we were able to take the girls to see some fireworks and have a grand old time before they settled down for a movie and popcorn and lights out.  When bff's mom (I'm going to call her Alice) came to pick bff up on Saturday afternoon, they invited Missy to sleep over at their house that night.  Now, we've done double sleepovers before and it generally doesn't go well but since Missy didn't make it through their last sleepover and needed to come home, she really wanted to give it a try.  ("Mom, Bff was so disappointed when I went home last time and I really want to sleep over there tonight.")  It was sweet.

So try she did.  But 10:30 came and my phone rang.  Missy was in tears, freaking out, wanting to come home.  For a split second I considered going to pick her up.  But then I said no.  I reminded her that she was perfectly safe, that she had slept at bff's house plenty of times and she should try her deep breathing and try again.  After the phone call, I was texting with Alice.  Alice was my saving grace that night.

She and her husband talked with Missy at length, calming all her fears, reassuring her and doing everything they could to make her feel comfortable. Alice reminded me over and over how much they loved Missy and wanted to make sure they did everything they could do for her to help her face her fears and overcome them. They were so incredible, I was actually in tears during this texting conversation.  

There will be a lot of people in Missy's life (outside of Castle Scarlett) who won't understand her anxiety.  There will be people who shy away from her because they don't know how to accept her.  But for now, she has Alice and her family who love and accept her and encourage and support her.  How much more does a person really need?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Invisible Baggage

A while back,  had been trying to explain to Missy the behavior or one of her friends.  This friend was being mean, not really bullying, just being mean.  But Missy couldn't understand why this friend would act this way.  So after a few attempts that Missy wasn't comprehending, I came up with a phrase that seemed to make sense: "Invisible Baggage".

So here's my Invisible Baggage theory: We all, kids especially, carry an invisible bag at all times.  That bag holds all the stuff a person has dealt with or is dealing with.  Others won't see it, but it's always there.  I explained to Missy that she carries in her invisible baggage her anxiety, a learning disability, a quick temper -- but she also carries love, friendship, kindness, dreams, and generosity.

We got back to talking about her friend being mean, I explained that just because she didn't know what her friend's invisible baggage held, didn't mean it wasn't there.  Maybe her friend carried depression in her baggage.  Maybe she carried a difficult family life.  Maybe she carried a parent who was mean to her.  We talked about the fact that invisible baggage doesn't make it okay to be mean, but it means that maybe we should take just a few minutes to see the reasons behind the behavior.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing severe behavior, bullying, or abuse.  But when life, and friendships don't go smoothly, perhaps it's time to check the baggage.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Just trying to help.....or not.

Recently I had a friend post an article on Facebook on her own wall about childhood anxiety.  It was pretty typical so I told her to go back and re-read the article with Missy in mind.  She said that was what she had done and that it reminded her of Missy completely.  Made sense since Missy is displaying pretty typical anxiety these days.  (It used to be that her anxiety came out in bad behavior.  These days, however, she displays pretty classic anxiety symptoms instead of misbehaving.)

So okay, I thought, well, that's nice, since this friend leads one of Missy's extra-curricular activities, that she was looking into the whole anxiety thing so she could better relate to Missy.  But no, she went on to tell me that I should really consider telling the other girls in the activity that LM has anxiety so that THEY could understand her better.  Wait, WHAT?!  No!

This is not information to be disseminated to her peers!  Really, Missy's life is hard enough with the stuff she has to deal with, she doesn't need to add the pressure of her classmates judging her and knowing her "secrets".  Now, I'm not saying that it should be an actual secret never to be revealed.  But really, it's clearly difficult for some adults to understand a 10 year old with anxiety issues.  How does she or anyone else expect other 10 year olds to understand it?!

It's beyond me what this woman is thinking.