Saturday, July 26, 2008

Special Needs Friends

Over the years one of the challenges we have faced is dealing with Daughter's friends. Because she is special needs, most of her friends are special needs. Even more challenging, some of their parents are special needs. When we had her graduation open house, one of her friends showed up with her entire family in tow and presented Daughter with a kitten as a graduation gift. A kitten the vet later estimated was 3 weeks old. I did not want a kitten. We had a cat. One cat was enough. I especially didn't want a long haired kitten.

I supposed I could have politely vetoed the gift, but then I would have been faced with a very unhappy Daughter, which would not have made for a very pleasant open house. My siblings thought it was hilarious, and kept telling Daughter to make sure she gave the kitten to me so I could bond with her. It's been over 2 years now, and the kitten is still here. The cat and I have adjusted, at least to some degree. Kitten is still obnoxious, and sheds nonstop. She hates being brushed. What kind of parent doesn't realize that it isn't appropriate to separate a 3 week old kitten from her mother, or give a pet as a gift without first checking with the parent of the recipient?

Or there is the parent who accused Daughter of harrassing her son, even after I produced records showing her son initiated the majority of the calls. She recently found her son with another young woman, and told the young woman to stay away from her son. This weekend her son is taking advantage of his mother's absence to host this young woman at home. I'm sure, though, that even if she finds out she will still see her son as the innocent victim of these female predators.

Most recently we experienced the challenges of special needs friends with the workshop friends Daughter invited to a picnic prior to the concert in the park. We didn't know if there would be 2 or 6 of them show up. Plans were changed repeatedly, including by Daughter. When she found out the friends she most wanted to attend weren't coming, she tried to cancel the picnic, leaving one woman in tears. I informed her that she wasn't being fair to the friends who had committed to coming, and that she would have the picnic.

Three friends came, including Boyfriend, who had insisted he wouldn't be able to attend for some mysterious reason. I made them sandwiches, and then retreated to a lawn chair Daughter had helpfully set up for me far from their picnic table. Her friends were very appreciative. I don't think they have those kinds of experiences with friends very often.

Providing Daughter with normal young adult experiences is a challenge, and figuring out how much freedom to provide is even harder. It is a constant balancing act. As Daughter tells people regularly, her safety is my top priority. Finding the balance of safety and freedom is an ongoing challenge. Hopefully I'm providing enough of both.

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