The age that our daughter is at is a tricky one, classmates are no longer as accepting, teachers are no longer willing to excuse misdemeanours and the world is becoming scarier by the day. She is eight, soon to be nine and the chasm of ‘difference’ between her and her peers is getting wider and wider. She is a lost soul at the moment, unable (not unwilling) to embrace the acronyms that explain her brain but in desperate need for a reason as to why she feels so ‘odd’.
This week has been full of meltdowns and overloads as she struggles to come to terms with the politics of her class (David Cameron has it easy), the social norms of the playground (chit chat, rules, niceties) and the rigid roles she feels she must belong to (it must be perfect, it must be exact).
We have seen a profound increase in the stimming with quite a bit of rocking, shaking, band beating and muttering and a spike in requiring a enclosed space to escape to. There is a makeshift tent in her room that is comfy and quiet but her wardrobe is the current place of choice where she can be very quiet, very calm and away from all stimulation. The slightest touch, the merest noise, the waft of dinner about to be served is sending her into a little world of her own.
Two nights ago when she was in the middle of an overload, she was remarkably lucid and described to me how she felt. She said ‘I am an alien, a green skinned alien, I am not from this planet and no one on this planet understands me’. She then went on to describe herself as a ‘strange, weird monster’, ‘a metal robot with robot eyes’ and a ‘nobody somebody’. Wow – profound yet heart-breaking.
She does not understand why others are so mean to her, ‘everyone, all the time, and will be forever’ or why this is happening to her. How do I tell her that kids are mean, they are irrationally nasty, they throw out barbs of poison hoping they land on a weaker member of the tribe, they hide their own insecurities by hurting those whose insecurities are plainer to see? How do I tell her that I hated school, every minute of it, every day for years and years and years?
What do I say to her when she says ‘Why me?’ Yes, it is unfair but darling, we need to be positive, we need to work together, we need to count our blessings and we need to do all we can to make you feel less like an alien and more like you. Because you are brilliant.