This morning a friend was IM'ing me wanting to get our kids together to play. Her son is one day older than the lowercase. But I sort of ignored her plea to get together today. (In my defense, I did offer to take them to the children's museum tomorrow morning)
And there is a reason for it. A reason that I'm rather ashamed of. Her son is...off. I thought it when they were babies. There was just something about him, but of course all his mother saw was her baby -- the child who she loved more than anything and who was, to her, nothing short of perfection. Pretty much the way we all view our babies. But I wasn't the only one who noticed it. Mr. W asked if this boy was alright...my parents thought something was off...another NICU mom friend met them and asked if he was ok...her mother asked. It was pretty obvious, yet nobody could really figure it out. We all just said it was something about his eyes and the way that he reacted to other people, to sounds, etc. I was always concerned that he didn't care who was holding him...that in his mother's arms in a room full of strangers he would reach out to complete strangers. (It wasn't that accidental reaching out to a stranger and then realizing it isn't someone you know, either)
When they turned 2 in the fall, her son still wasn't talking. She kept saying that it was normal for some kids not to talk until they were three and that she wasn't worried. And every time she brought that up, I told her that it doesn't have to mean something bad but that it is NOT normal. I offered her the number for our county's early intervention office every time. And then one day she took it. And called.
Her son has had a speech and special ed evaluation and they have determined that he is in need of both services. However, they didn't do a full-scale evaluation at that time -- some case workers have changed and she's still waiting for the OT and PT evals. They stopped short of labeling him autistic; he is, in their opinion, definitely on the spectrum. They are on a waiting list to see a doctor for an official diagnosis.
And so I tend to avoid them somewhat. Not because I'm afraid of being around them or of saying the wrong thing. My lowercase is very verbally advanced. He gets frustrated with my friend's son because he can't answer his questions. Her son also has different sensitivities to touch (most markedly, he doesn't process pain correctly) and so his play is much different than the lowercase. Her friend is sort of the proverbial bull in the china shop. He just rolls right over everything in his path. And that disturbs the lowercase. He tells me he doesn't like that boy after they leave our house. He doesn't like to have him play with his toys.
And I just don't know what to say and how to handle that part...how do I explain to a two year old who is still discovering his own environment, what he can do on his own and how he can influence the world around him that he needs to be sensitive to another child? And how do I deal with the fact that her child is more than 10 pounds heavier than my little boy...that his version of hugging looks (and feels) like strangulation? And that the rest of his play is just as rough? Lately it's been that her son does whatever he wants and my child has to just suck it up and be the one to be upset. (Her son's issues are such that he is, as yet, unable to follow verbal commands.)
I know on some level I should talk to her about it, but I don't know what to say. She's a bit of a flake, and always has been. Generally, our friends (and even her husband has admitted to feeling this way) view her as a small doses person. So I'm sure that has something to do with it. She's not someone that I feel I could easily have a discussion with about this -- at least not to any real resolution.
And of course she told me today that I'm one of the only people she can really vent to about her son's issues. Her husband refuses to believe that there is anything wrong at all. Others tell her he's just too strong-willed and that she should have stronger discipline tactics with him. And I do get that when your child veers from the norm, others see fit to tell you that you are doing something wrong. I felt that keenly with a lot of things that I did in the first year of life with a preemie. (I was told that I was overly neurotic for asking people to wash hands before touching him, for not going out in public, that I was being too caught up in his feedings and worrying too much despite his tiny stature) So I understand that side of it. And I want to be there for her. I just don't know how to do it for all of the reasons that I've mentioned.
What would you do?