Friday, March 12, 2010

It. Over. Get.

I stand by her door, listening, trying my hardest not to breathe or make a sound.

There's no sound coming from her side either.

Very carefully, I sneak away.

Best leave them to it, I think. Go back and finish your article, feed the dog and take the clothes off the line. Those two will be fine, I think.

As five-thirty rolls around, I tap on the door again.

"Girls? It's time for us to take J home." I pause for a few seconds, waiting for an answer and the door to open. Nothing.

Knock knock knock "Girls, you've got five minutes to clear all this ------ empty egg cartons, plastic wrap, wool, sticky tape and beading wire all over Sapphire's bed ------ before we're walking to J's house, okay?"

Sapphire's hunched over the side of her desk, busily threading some string through a bag filled with stones and connected to a home-made slippery dip. "Mmm hmmm."

J is sitting on the edge of the bed, eyes not meeting mine. "I'm ready."

She only lives a few streets away and we always walk. Milly joins us, joyful for a bonus scamper on the lead as always. It's been the first time in three weeks that we've done this.

Sapphire skips ahead, urging J to join her. "Hey, I dare you to walk up the way up the street with me like this" and does a rather good impersonation of a hyperactive gorilla with knuckles nearly scraping the bitumen.

"Um, no way Sapph."
"Do you want me to carry your clarinet case?" I ask her.
J continues to focus on the footpath. "No thanks."

Sapphire tries again. "Hey-ba Jay-ba How-ba Are-ba You-ba To-ba Day-ba?"
They used to spend hours in Fat Albert-speak.
"Look I'm tired, Sapphire, okay?"

I see my daughter's shoulders slump as she drops back to my side and reaches for my hand. We've reached J's gate and instead of chatting for a while and letting Milly sniff their rose bushes we turn and leave without looking back.

When we round the corner, Sapphire says. "I was so happy when she finally said she'd come over after school, but it was horrible."

I wait, having learned over the past three weeks that too many interruptions and anxious questions make things worse.

"She thought everything was boring, she didn't like what we gave her to eat, she didn't want to help me, she didn't like the rabbit-shaped cushion I'd sewn for her and kept saying 'whatever' to everything I said."

We walk on up the hill, letting Milly sniff the old urine-action that had occurred at the base of a plane tree. "I tried so hard, Mum. I was so glad she wanted to be friends with me again, that it would be like it used to be, but she only came over to make me feel bad."

I pull her close to my side and her arms wind around my waist as we continue walking. It feels physically awkward but nice. "I know, love. I snuck over to your door a few times and didn't hear the usual happy chatter you guys used to have."

Sapphire sniffs and her voice is quivery. "Can we walk faster?"

I don't dare look at her puzzled and hurt blue eyes. Our pace quickens and I keep blathering. "......And I could see how happy you were to bring her home with us, and heard how nice you were in offering her things, starting up conversations and stuff. You should be proud of yourself because you tried everything."

"I know I did, Mum. I don't know why she's doing this to me."

My beautiful darling girl. How cruel it is to see you get hurt deliberately by someone you used to trust and love wholeheartedly. I have no real words of comfort and my advice is always waved away -"Yeah Mum but it's hard to make new friends because everyone knows that J is my best friend and they've already got their own," - or rejected - "Mum, stop worrying, you make me feel even sadder."

There are no phone calls for her after dinner now, and the weekends are spent entirely in the company of two adults. Two adults whose hearts ache for her. Any offers to invite other friends are always refused. "No Mum, stop it! I see them enough at school!"

I want to crack heads together, throw a tantrum, ring parents and get angry. But I can't do what she wants most in the world: turn back time and make her friend love her again.

After dinner and a shower, Sapphire's back in her room. I hear the 'brrrrip brrrrip brrrrrip' of the sticky-tape dispenser and see that there's considerable progress happening on her Rube Goldberg interpretation. She's humming to herself and Milly's snuck in there too, not only to sniff Sapph's schoolbag but also to just be a warm presence. She's good at that.

I know my child will be okay but the ache is there. And the concern and the indignant fury. How dare you do this to her?

"Hey Mum?"
"Yes love?"
"Do you think Dad will be able to help me do this on the weekend?"

Just you try and stop him.


Baino said...

Oh Kath it is heartbreaking, been through it with mine but at least they had each other when the friendships were a flutter. She'll find her path . . then the boys will come along and it'll all be on again! she's a sweet kid, she just needs to find her niche. Hugs to you both, it's so hard to let things take their course sometimes. At least she's humming!

Benjamin Solah said...

Growing up and drifting apart from friends can be weird. I'm barely in contact with the friends I had from school, and this was before moving to Melbourne too.

We're just so different now in our priorities and world views, and I've met new people that seem to match me more.

Vanessa said...

My heart aches for Saph. We had the same happen to our eldest 12 months ago. It broke my heart because she was open and honest about her friendships and they turned on her. What I learnt was that my 9 year old had outgrown them and they couldn't keep up so they excluded her. We encouraged her to chat to strangers in her swimming class, get to know a new person each week in her theatre sports class and by getting positive feedback about herself from kids not at her school she gained the confidence to invite school kids over and was pleasantly surprised that she actually liked some kids she had not gotten to know. She is so happy with a wide circle of friends, although it did take over 6 months.

franzy said...

Oh Kath. I'm not looking forward to those ones.

ps. I'm still here.

Pandora Behr said...

It's so sad to see Saph go through this - it aches to see the you and her in so much pain and confusion (and it doesn't get better when this happens when your older) The only bright side, new friends will come... it's the one of life's certainties. Good people make great friends - just sometimes it takes a bit of searching.

Kath Lockett said...

That's the thing, isn't it? We know that it will turn out alright in the end, but the painful bits in between are so hard to witness.

Kath Lockett said...

....And is it wrong of me to want to punch a ten year old child's lights out?

Pandora Behr said...

Um, no, it's not wrong of you to want to punch their lights out - it would be criminal if you did. not liking children is hard - worse than not liking adults. I'd be happy that 1) you know who Saph's friends are, and 2) you can help her get through messes like this. Some kids aren't so lucky.

River said...

Oh gosh, this has made me cry. (wiping away tears as she types). My heart breaks every time kids are hurt this way. It's part of life, I know, kids change and grow and move on, sometimes a friendship is renewed at a later stage, sometimes it's severed forever. I'm glad Sapphire has you two to see her through this. Eventually there'll be a friend or two who will stick through thick and thin, go through everything with her, no matter what, for a lifetime.

Vanessa said...

I just looked back at your Jan 1st post, when did this kid get too cool to enjoy Saphire's company? I hope this opens the door for another amazing, kind, fun kid to step in as a besty x

delamare said...

Oh Kath - the whole issue of girl friendships has been a big one in our house too at present. Luckily we've come through the other side of a tricky situation now, but it has been TOUGH. I urge you to get hold of a book I'm reading called Queen Bees and Wannabes - Rosalind Wiseman is the author - which is written for mothers of girls the ages of Sapphire and C and older. Quite a frightening view of cliques, gossip etc etc, but with some excellent insight and advice. (PS the desire to punch a 10yo in the nose for being mean to your beloved offspring is utterly normal!)

Helen said...

Girls can be horrendously vicious, particularly at that age. I remember wishing I was a bo so that I could sort out fights by hitting them a few times and being hit back and then it would be over.

I guess there's nothing to do but keep going, and keep trying. From what you've described I think Sapphire is an amazing, bright and fun girl, maybe J was just jealous and coudn't keep up?

I hope things settle soon, and until then she's really lucky to have all of you as a support system!

nuttynotons said...

as they say when one door closes another one opens and it is good experience for her. When she has relationships and breaks upthey can hurt so much more.

I know it is not much consolation now but it is all part of her development

Kay said...

My little Aspie girl has had terrible trouble with friendships over the years as she just doesn't 'get' many of the social nuances. (Even tonight she was looking at a school friend's Facebook photos of what was clearly a birthday party and said in a completely baffled voice "I just don't get why she didn't invite me.") Finding and keeping friends can be so hard....and so heartbreaking for us mothers. This is the age where some girls seem to mature faster than others.....and not always in a good way!

You are doing a fabulous job with Sapphire, and she will grow into a fascinating adult. She's lucky to have you. I hope the friendship issues resolve themselves soon.

Lidian said...

Been there, felt like bonking various mean girls over the head for making one or the other of my girls feel horrible...

Hope S feels better soon. It is awful, as a mom, to know that there's nothing you can do to make your child feel better. Ugh.

eleanor bloom said...

Both girls and women can be awful as 'friends'. She's learning this. let's hope she can also learn that there are some good ones. tell her it's nothing to do with her, and she's not alone - it would be weirder, unfortunately, if this didn't happen to her. *sigh*

Ed said...

My (very general) observations:

1. Blokes seem to be good at being friends through the teens and twenties but, once partners and family come along, let it all slip.

2. Women become better friends to one another in their 30s on but - especially if they are partnered - they don't seem to be interested in befriending men.

I suspect this is related to the work/family situation etc.

I find this difficult because I'd much rather be friends with women but, it seems to me (gross generalisation coming), once women have their bloke, why bother with the rest?

Helen said...

Both the writing and your girl's personality.

Jilly said...

Sadly it's not just girls either - my son has had his fair share of boys being horrible - asserting power and authority and kicking out the 'weaklings' of the group - very unpleasant. However, maybe boys recover quicker because my son has bounced back and moved on fairly quickly (I am still recovering!). xx J