learning to live and love from a new perspective

Archive for May, 2015

Friend Files: Part Two

So, the other day I wrote about G’s big leap forward with his social skills.  Here’s Part Two of the story–  which in many ways is much better than Part One, because Part Two is in G’s own words.

Every day for two weeks, G has been working on a paper version of the Friend File.  He knows that most people keep “friend files” in their brain…  but he enjoyed the experience of befriending some new kids so much, I think he doesn’t want to forget how to do it.

I’m so moved by what he wrote on these pages.  Most of us have an intuitive sense about how to make a new friend.  We recognize that social exchanges require effort, but we know how to do it.  We learn from experience that initiating contact with someone new can make us feel awkward or uncertain, but we are motivated by the potential of a new connection.  Maybe the new kid in my class will end up being my best friend–  I won’t know til I talk to him.  A new family is moving in next door.  Maybe they’ll have a kid my age.  I can’t wait to find out.  Those first few conversations can be unnerving, but we trust we’ll ask the right question eventually that will lead us to common ground–  a shared interest, similar taste in music or books, a mutual passion for some activity or hobby.  It’s a challenging process, but there’s nothing mysterious about it.

I get the sense from reading G’s “friend file”papers, that there is something magical about turning a stranger into a friend–  almost like turning straw into gold.  Something ordinary can inexplicably become something wonderful and priceless.  And, now that I think about it…  while there is nothing mysterious to me about initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know…  I find G’s reverence and awe towards the whole experience to be beautiful.  True friendship is a gift, something to be treasured.  For me personally, I’m about to leave home for a month to work at sleep-away camp.  (More about that later!).  I’m about to enter into a situation where I’ll be meeting about a thousand new people…  each and every one of them is a potential friend.  While I don’t plan to write up a hard-copy of a friend file, I do want to learn from my wonderful son.  I’ll be on the look-out this summer for some new friends.  I’d like to enter each new encounter inspired by G’s sense of wonder.

Without further ado…  The Friend Files…  by G

IMG_1524This is the envelope G created…  meant to represent a file folder.  This is the physical holder for all the information he gathers about his new friends.

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Friend Files

Sorry for the long silence over here at Frootloops Blog. Once I haven’t written for a while, it’s hard to jump back in. But we had a moment last week that left me singing from the rooftops, and I just need to get it down on (virtual) paper.

S has been playing Girls Softball this season. It’s been an amazing experience for her… being part of a team, learning a new skill, receiving excellent coaching from a demanding but supportive coach… all wonderful. I’ll write more about that later.

Softball meets three times a week– two games plus one practice. This means that three times a week, G gets dragged along to the field. He’s been pretty amenable to the new schedule. G and I enjoy watching the games together, and keeping track of the strikes, balls, runs and outs in a little notebook. Not a bad way to spend a beautiful spring evening.

But one day last week, something new happened. We arrived early at S’s game. The players were warming up on the field. G was wandering around looking for something to do. He found a tree with low branches and good footholds… perfect for climbing.

Up and down the tree he went, happily amusing himself with this new activity. Then, a minivan pulled up and parked on the street alongside of the tree. The minivan door opened. A player from the opposing team hopped out, and rushed over to the field to join her teammates. A mom stepped out of the driver’s side. She reached into the back and extracted a tired-looking toddler. Then, something wonderful happened. Two adorable little girls bustled out after their little brother. And they made a beeline to G’s tree.

G backed away from the tree and came to stand near me. We watched the girls in silence for a moment as they explored the base of the tree. Then, G leaned over and whispered loudly in my ear, “Mom, I have an idea. Do you see those girls? I’m going to ask them questions from my Friend File.”

Me: What’s a Friend File?

G: A Friend File is questions you ask someone you just met so you can learn about them.

Me: That sounds like a great plan. Where did you learn about Friend Files?

G: I learned about them from Ms. D. In my Social Smarts group. At school on Fridays.

Me: Oh, I see. So what questions are in your Friend File?

G: I can ask “What is your name” and “How old are you”? Those are questions from my Friend File. I can also ask “When is your birthday?” because I like that question, too.

Me: Awesome! Those are GREAT questions! So why are you going to use Friend File questions right now?

G: Cause I was doing something interesting, like climbing a tree. And I think those girls want to do something interesting with me. And I don’t want to play with a stranger, so I’ll use some Friend File questions. Then we can get to know each other. That’s my plan!

And with that, he tookinchworm off. Back to the tree. On a mission to make some new friends.

And, oh, what friends he made! For the next two hours, G played happily with his new friends Clarissa (age 5 ½, birthday December 12) and Audrey (age 4, birthday May 2). They climbed the tree for a while, then made up a game called “Sprinkle Grass” (which appeared to be a modified version of Duck, Duck, Goose… only with grass-sprinkling instead of “ducking”). Then, they spent a long, long time hunting for inch worms and creating little inch worm habitats.

Over the course of the evening, several other kids joined them, then drifted away. But the whole time, every time I looked over, there was G, right in the thick of things.

G’s development has been anything but linear– especially in the area of social skills. But he absorbs everything, and processes it… all in his own way, on his own timeline. The key is to continuing providing him with tools he can use when he is ready.

I’m so proud of G and all the progress he’s made this year. And, I’m so very, very grateful to his team of teachers who work with him every day to give him the tools he needs.

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