Friday, April 18, 2014

"Operation Communication"

We are working on something we call, "Operation Communication" in our house.   Our daughter, Emily (13) is really an introvert & being an only child doesn't help.  She has a very hard time making friends due to it.   Her father & I aren't what you'd call "Social butterflies" either & so perhaps our example hasn't been the best for her either.  Not to mention she had a one on one aide (for various reasons- but not academic) for many years in school, which I'm sure didn't help with the whole "making" friends thing.  Or the fact that she's not an athlete & team sports wasn't something our pediatrician really recommended for Emily.  She's always been super smart----as such she'd rather be reading or writing than outside playing  & she just has a general lack of "social" skills, perhaps as a result of her premature birth.  But she's ALSO such a great girl & we know if the kids would just have a little patience with her & get to really know her they would totally have so much fun being her friend.   We really want her to make friends & be more of a "participate" in her school & just the world in general. Her father & I had a good talk with Emily the other day... a really good one.  I think we made a breakthrough. It's obviously something we've communicated with Emily over the years BUT maybe perhaps not this in-depth or with a specific "plan" ie: Operation Communication.  We tried really hard to explain why communicating with others is so important.  If you don't understand something... you have to communicate that.  If you want something you have to say it, or you might NEVER get it & in order to make friends you have to start conversations--- you have to put yourself out there!!  I know we could be asking for trouble.  I'm sure a lot of "middle school" moms might be thinking, we are crazy for opening that "middle school girl drama" can.  But we know it's important- nonetheless to make friends. At one point during our talk both Emily & I were getting a little teary.  I was upset because I told her I wanted the world for her & I was afraid that if she didn't start putting herself out there a little more she might miss a bunch of opportunities in life.   I don't like seeing her inside all the time & I really want her to make friends with other kids.  I remember how much fun I had with my best friend Denise when I was her age.  I too, didn't have a whole lot of friends but I had that one good one.  That is all we really want for Emily.  When I asked Emily why she was getting upset she said, she was getting upset seeing me get upset.  :) She's so sweet.  I know if kids got to know the Emily we see- they'd realize just what a great kid/ friend she could be.  But I can't make the friends for her.... She has to.  So we're starting "operation communication" to try & get her to better communicate--- starting in our own house & hopefully she can extend it to school.  It's been going really good.  We usually get the "typical" teenage response when we ask her how her day was? GOOD.  Then we would find out something she forgot to mention, like a test or some information we should be knowing... so we talked about her not saying "one word" answers but actually going in to details with us, we are really encouraging this at home & hopefully it will extent to school as well.  The thing that is great about Emily is she is generally willing to put in the work, & since we're making it like an "assignment" hence the "operation communication" title it might just work. She's a bit of a perfectionist & hopefully in this case that will work to her benefit- & she'll want to have a successful outcome. Hey, whatever works.... :)  So hopefully if we keep on top of it,  more communicating will soon become second nature.   Emily tends to keep to her self in school, she's a bit shy & usually during any free time she'll have her head in a book... so when ever I ask her well what were the other kids doing? & She's like... I don't know.  She's so focused academically, that the "Social" aspects of school & making friends are not something she cares too much about. I mean she is in the National Jr. Honor Society & takes EXCEL Science & Social Studies.. Until this year she got straight A's & even this year with taking a really tough Algebra class, she has made HONOR roll every marking period. :) We are so proud of her & really happy she is such an academic, but we wish she would get involved more in school socially.   The thing is we think Emily wishes it too, even though she is really a HAPPY person & generally fine with how life is.  I know at times she wishes for me friends, etc.   I think "Operation Communication" is actually starting to work... just this week she told me about two conversations she had with the same girl this week & I'm hoping it's the start of good things "in the friend's" department for her.  One of the conversation----- she even started! So stoked! I hope she allows the kids into her world, & maybe even more importantly I hope they allow her into theirs.  Here's hoping.  I've written about wanting her to have more friends before & I just hope taking this "extra" step with Operation Communication helps... if she puts in the effort & sees results hopefully it will make a world of difference in her opening up to others.  As a parent, you worry about your kids... you just do.  You can't help it.  She's been really blessed in life.  As have we to be her parents... I just hope she has others in her life that have her back & get her.  It can't just be her family. Having friends is really important.... We think she's starting to get that.  :)

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