Teacher Professor

September 3, 2010

All Stars Fixation

Filed under: Autism,Schools — Teacher Professor @ 7:26 am

Hey now you’re an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

Smashmouth- All Star

Elizabeth is convinced that Converse All-Stars are the key to school and social success.  My husband is also deeply tickled that he’s cool again. 

“All” of the girls in Elizabeth’s class are wearing Converse sneakers- or at least Emily is.  And since Emily is all that Elizabeth aspires to be (ie. popular, pretty, more developed, and did I mention popular?), Elizabeth has decided that it’s because Emily is wearing really cool shoes. 

At the same time as this flawed perception, Elizabeth’s feet have grown, so it really and truly is time for new shoes.  Which means that for the last week, she has been fixated on going shopping for Converse All Stars.  The first words out of her mouth, every single morning this week, have been, “Are we going?  Is it Friday?  I need Converse, Mommy!” 

To make matters worse, our schedule has been shifting- we have been trying to determine when soccer practices, gymnastics practice and- ahem- my hair cut fit into this week.  First, we were going shopping on Monday, and then Friday, and then Wednesday.  Elizabeth has been in a tizzy.

To make matters worse, she wanted Emily to go with her to share in her glory, and Emily has been a brat this week.  Emily is going through “Fourth Grade Girl Syndrome” and playing emotional games.  Elizabeth bugs her, so she says something mean.  Then, Elizabeth has something she wants, so she’s nice.  She says she’s “busy” and then has a sleep-over at Tracy’s house.  And poor Elizabeth is caught in the shifting sands of Emily’s currents of friendship and so holds on even tighter.  I don’t believe that this is a serious character flaw of Emily- Emily is generally a sweet kid, who truly cares about Elizabeth and I think that some of this is sibling-like.  We’ve weathered this storm before with Emily.  I’ve taught fourth grade girls and they can be mean.  It hurts, though, to have my baby caught in the rip tide of growing up. 

Elizabeth is convinced that the way to Emily’s heart is by having the right shoes.  And so… the need for Converse.

I have to admire Elizabeth’s pluckiness.  On Monday, she asked Emily yet again if she could come with us shopping and yet again, Emily said “No/yes/no”.  Elizabeth was crying to me and I suggested that we bring another friend.  On Tuesday, Elizabeth broke the pattern and said “Never mind, Emily- We’ve invited Serena.”  It was a clear attempt to make Emily jealous, but it allowed Elizabeth an “out”, another friend to share the joy with.  (Serena is a friend at school who has some differences herself.  Her mom and I are friendly, and Serena adores Elizabeth.  It’s time to cultivate that friendship) 

And so on Wednesday, Serena got pink Converse sneakers and Elizabeth got black hightops.  Serena’s mom and I laughed and relaxed in the comfort that only being with another mother of a child with differences can bring.  When the inevitable meltdown came, we parted ways, knowing that we would get together again.  The girls talked, if a bit parallel-y, and Elizabeth was beautiful in her own eyes. 

And best of all?  She ran over to Emily’s house to show her the new shoes and Emily came back over to our house, saying “Those are really cute!” 

I know- that would have been a perfect ending- sunset, girls hand-in-hand skipping off- only it didn’t quite happen that way.  Elizabeth continued to focus on her shoes- extoll their virtues, how they went with everything- to the exclusion of what Emily wanted to talk about, and eventually Emily left, looking bored.  I know that Elizabeth was hoping to rebuild that bond and convinced that discussing the shoes was the way to do it.  She was anxious, and so the sneakers became the only thing she could focus on as a way of getting past that anxiety. 

After Emily left, I snuggled my girl, and suggested that perhaps next time, she could ask Emily how her day was, or ask a question, rather than doing the talking.  “Will she come back?” whispered Elizabeth.

“Of course she will!” I said.  “Now that you have the shoes, you can move on.” 

‘The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings.’
Lewis Carroll

1 Comment »

  1. I have a child with differences too, and it is hard for them to build friendships, especially the older they get. Social relationships start to change and become more complex. I’m so glad that you at least have had experiences such as sleepovers and the like. My son’s 10, and that hasn’t been on the radar for him. He compartmentalizes and thinks that school friends are for school and church friends are for church. He’s not open to having them over to play really.

    Comment by Christy — September 3, 2010 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

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