Out of my depth – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Out of my depth

Out of my depth

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.

  • Kelly Exeter

    April 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm Reply

    Oh lovie. Ok, I have no idea because I am not a parent of a pre-teen but … as I mentioned to you before, I didn’t have a lot of friends in primary school (and for a while there I had no friends at all). When I look back and try to figure out why I bear no scars I think it is because I was always involved in sport. Is Georgia interested in sport, or dancing or music or anything extracurricular like that? Sport is great because it is like instant friends … even if it only for the part of the week that you are doing said sport :)

  • Lisa @ Giving Back Girl

    April 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm Reply

    I have a Georgia, my Georgia walks his own path in life. I try to celebrate it, but sometimes I just want him to …um..”blend” a little more, to not be so different, to help himself by being neutral and not a target. He’s taken some big falls, been bullied, lost his social group, but his resilience has surprised us. We thought he needed to be treated like a baby bird with our hands cupped gently around him. But he’s ok. I’m all about finding his “stuff” and making it happen for him, vehemently and with steely determination. I have stood at the edge for years knowing if I step off, we’ll head down a path, but by not stepping off are we not helping our boy. I think the worse solution for us will be complacency. And even though we have many long patches of good and happiness, I will never let complacency into my house. I am always on guard. I so know where you are Anna. I’ve been there for years.

  • Lara @ This Charming Mum

    April 25, 2012 at 12:27 am Reply

    I hear good things about the group ‘resilience training’ sessions some child psychs run these days – based around games with a focus on bullying/making friends/social skills. Perhaps less confronting for youngsters than one-on-one sessions, assuming you get the right psych. We’ve been through some similar-ish stuff, but my kids are younger. Must be harder to negotiate when they are old enough to know their own minds and feel things more intensely. Good luck!

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