of the new year

I’ve spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon taking care of business—overdue thank you notes to friends and the cheer coach (I had to tell her about Julia’s wall climbing which the biweekly cheer workouts are responsible for (Eek! Ending with a preposition!)), emails to find providers for our current respite needs and to teachers to figure out how to best support Julia as she works on her first English research paper, queries about two new projects I’ve been promising myself for a long time and also about an idea to help Julia with independence, paying a few bills, ordering what I think is the perfect birthday present for Julia, and phone calls to change doc appointments and set up another round of house repairs.

Whoa, I am clear today! And very grateful for the clarity. I have been kinda’, sorta’ muddled and overwhelmed recently.  No good reason.  Holidays? Travel? The cold (not a cold but the weather)?  Since we’ve gotten home, I’ve had a slow ‘recovery,’ not from illness but from malaise, some not-quite sadness.  My usual trust that I would get back to a busy daily round eventually was beginning to wane.  Perhaps the muddle was here to stay this time.

But Today.  Today, I am happily present and clear.  With two caveats.  Clarity peaked in this weekend and has grown since the temperature has risen.  And, this clarity may be partially, if not in full, due to more than my usual daily dose of espresso and the green tea on the desk right now.  Still . . .

Julia asked for something amazing last week.  On Thursday, she asked for help making friends.  She wanted to know what she should do to have friends ‘like other kids.’  We talked about it for awhile in a pretty coherent and on topic way.


I couldn’t wait to tell her speech therapist, who like those speech therapists who proceeded her, has worked tirelessly on Julia’s interpersonal skills.  Social skills.  Julia has always wanted friends and she has never understood how to ‘get’ them. She has pursued kids in unusual ways like staring at them for too long or saying kind of embarrassing things to them, but rarely has she done much social bidding or responded to appropriate social bidding from others.  From many, many nice kids who have tried.  And although she has done exercises and played on social skill apps, sometimes quite well, it has not in any way globalized to her real world.

Her question comes after a year of an incredible increase in social bidding, although it has been  social bidding without real interest in the other person.  Conversations only last as long as the other is willing to hear Julia talk about whatever she is interested in.  Julia conversations also end abruptly and sometimes almost rudely.

I don’t expect a miracle after her spoken awareness that she may need some friendship advice but I am very excited by the question. My first impulse was to suggest a chart and give her stickers for the number of kids she said hello to in school each day.  No, I didn’t suggest it.  I could feel eye rolling at the mere thought.  Julia and her speech therapist had a discussion and came up with some possible next steps.  A sheet of suggestions now hangs on the refrigerator.  I am trying very, very hard to refrain from reminding her to check the fridge often or ask her about her days, but I am poised for further queries.

I could breathe the prayer every minute of every day: please, let her learn to make a friend. Please.

I am very aware that our New Year holiday is a construct, not derived from any change of seasons or other inevitable natural phenomenon.  Not quite a hallmark holiday but no reason to end a year or celebrate a new one other than a calendar from the late 1500’s introduced by a pope.  (I’m sure he had his reasons.) And it may merely be habituation on my part, but I am usually moved to rethink and relook, make new goals and renew old ones.  Absolutely nothing different this year.  So, resolutions will follow shortly.

And yes, I enjoy making New Year’s resolutions.

3 thoughts on “of the new year

  1. We have to grab those “clear” days when we can. I know I feel overwhelmed sometimes and want to hide, read a book and avoid all that overwhelming-in-my-head-stuff. I’ve taken to making a list and as I cross (even the dumb to do things) off, I feel I’ve been successful.

  2. You and Julia’s helpers continue to do an amazing job. She should know that making friends, good friends, is not easy. I am 68 and I struggle daily with this.

    1. Me too, Gail! There are so many times when I think that if I was better at making friends, in this case, cultivating friends with kids who were Julia’s age when she was much younger, she would be further along having friends now. But alas, we can only do what we can do.

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