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Hoping my son’s friendships don’t have tricky rules

Last week I read a post called “I Got Dumped by One of My Best Friends.” The post caught my attention because my mother had recently made up with a close friend who had dumped her years ago.

My mother’s friend Anne had out of the blue told my mom that she didn’t want to be friends anymore. My mother was confused and heartbroken, and I helped her write an email to Anne apologizing for whatever Anne thought my mother had done or not done, and wishing Anne the best.

Anne was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago and when my mother heard, she reached out and asked to see her. Anne said yes, and my mother visited her every couple of days during which they became friends again, and the prior issue was forgotten.

Anne died the same morning I read the post, and while I was very sad for my mother I was also very glad that she had an opportunity to restore the friendship and part with Anne on good terms.

Friendships can be confusing, and like any relationship they can require patience and good communication.

When I was in middle school, I was friends with a group of girls who would decorate each other’s locker for their birthday. Staying after school taping up candy and streamers was a lot of fun.

When my birthday neared, I made a comment about how much I was looking forward to my locker being decorated. Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say. Instead of decorating my locker, they just left the paper bag full of candy and streamers on the locker shelf.

I learned that decorating my locker was not about them making me happy on my birthday, but me making them happy by pretending to be surprised.

The rules of friendship can be tricky.

Sometimes I worry about my son and his friendships – will his friends be patient when he doesn’t read body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice communication?

Will they keep communicating with him even when he appears to be unaware of the topic of conversation?

Will they be tolerant when he is frank and honest rather than relying on “white lies?”

Will they “dump” him without warning for reasons he doesn’t understand?

Sometimes I get a little angry, too, because I don’t think there should be tricky rules in a friendship.

I held my mother’s hand as she cried after Anne hurt her. My mother with her good and golden heart in the end forgave Anne. I did not. I don’t really understand “dumping” friends.

I remained friends with the middle school girls and I learned to approach friendship with a kind of double-standard: I will give friendship sincerely and genuinely, and I don’t initially expect others to do the same.

I don’t know what to hope for most for my son: friendships that don’t have tricky rules, or that he learn how to be open and warm without expecting anything back.

Maybe I should hope for both.

Originally published on Autism Mom


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