This afternoon I met with Georgia’s teacher again, to discuss the ongoing friendship and social issues that she’s having. More and more, she comes home from school with tears in her eyes and with her little shoulders slumped and that is just not on.
Part of me always hopes that her teachers will say, “No, you have it all wrong, she’s fine at school!” And sometimes they do, but today was not one of those occasions.
“The other kids do tease her,” the teacher said, and my heart dropped into the centre of the earth. “Usually not right to her face, but they talk about her to each other sometimes, and sometimes she does hear them.”
At this point I was glad for my sinus infection, because I could pretend I wasn’t crying.
“What can we do?” I asked, and for the first time I realised I had no idea what answer to expect.
When she was younger, she went through all the normal developmental things. At times we worried about her, but we talked to our friends who had children of similar ages and they made the right noises and we were all In This Together. As they’ve grown older, the issues that we have with Georgia have become more exclusive to her. Our friends’ kids have developed into age appropriate, socially aware pre-teens. I no longer have anyone who will say, “Oh, don’t worry, Sienna does that too!” Because most of them don’t. Most of the other parents have children who don’t face any of these issues.
For us, that means flailing about in the dark, just trying to make as few mistakes as possible. Everyone has opinions, but no one has definitive answers. I talk to my parents and they say things like “don’t let anyone label her”, and of course I want to protect her but not at the expense of her ongoing happiness. I don’t want to get it wrong. I can’t get it wrong. She’s not a psychological guinea pig. If I get it wrong, there is so much at risk.
“Sometimes the way she responds to the other kids when they tease her just alienates them even further,” the teacher said.
From here I guess we see a behavioural psychologist, but this is all uncharted territory for me. I actually have no idea what the best Next Step is. I’m bewildered and sad.
I can hardly bring myself to imagine how bewildered and sad Georgia must be.