Saturday, September 29, 2007

No Friends for Frankie

Even though the previous post may have had a light tone to it, things are difficult for Frankie right now. He really doesn't have any friends.

At this moment Brian is downstairs with two of his friends. They are playing video games and have told Frankie that he may not play with them. I'm torn. There is the part of me that wants to tell Brian that that is rude, and that he must include Frankie. There is also the part that remembers how outraged I would be if I had been made to include my little sister in my games. And I know how I would have treated her if I had been made to.

But Frankie is hurt. Though he often accepts that he is annoying to others, and has left the other boys alone when he realizes he is getting on their nerves, he does not like being told he is not welcome. Who would?

[I am remembering seeing a documentary (or an episode on a news show?) about the book called "You can't say, 'You can't play.'" Is such a rule fair? Could I make it a rule in the house? Would it work if I did? Somehow it seems a better rule for a group of children the same age rather than for siblings at significantly different developmental ages.]

But Frankie really doesn't have friends of his own. He complains he can't make friends at school because he isn't given enough free time to interact with them. I suspect that is not true. I suspect that the time they can interact is very controlled, but that the making of friends would be possible if one had the skills for it. But I asked him if there were any kids from that school he would like to invite home to try to get to know better.

He said no. There are all too little. They are all little kids, under 10. (They aren't, but I am not quarreling with him.) I asked him what age he would like his friends to be. "An age where I could get along with them. My age. Like fourteen or fifteen."

And there is at least part of the problem. Frankie plays like a younger child. Merely by the fact that he says he wants friends to play with, we know he is not operating on a teen level. Most fifteen-year-olds want someone to hang out with. They would not want to make spears and hunt boxes in the back yard. I haven't taken him to the support group for GLBT teens because they are developmentally so much older than he is. They would be kind to him once, maybe even periodically, but they would want for an adult to take him away so that they could have important teenage conversations (and flirtations) without the little possibly-transkid saying, "Did you know..."

And so we have the problem. Frankie is fifteen, but developmentally much younger. He does not want to play with younger children, and their parents would probably be made nervous by it anyway.

And I don't know where to take him to meet developmentally delayed teenagers with whom to play and quarrel. I suppose there is some sort of organization for mentally retarded children and adults somewhere, but I think Frankie would respond the same way he does to the idea of playing with younger children.

Frankie is not mentally retarded. The last time his IQ was tested it was definitely below normal, but not low enough to qualify for any services based upon his IQ alone.

I feel badly for him, but I really don't know what to do for him.

I will ask his teachers if they have any ideas. If anyone would, it would be them.

But if you have ideas, please share.

Update: Hubby and I talked about it, and we have no solutions. I asked Frankie if he wanted to go to the youth group for GLBT teens tomorrow. He said "maybe" in a voice that meant "no." Same thing when I asked him if he wanted for us to arrange for either of the kids his age at his school to come over to visit.

The sad truth is just that Frankie does not have the skills to make friends. He cannot maintain two-way conversations. He can only "play" with someone who is older and being indulgent. Just like he can only have conversations with people who are willing to listen to him talk.

But that doesn't mean that he isn't lonely, or that he doesn't feel hurt when Brian has friends over and says, "You can't be here. Go away."


  1. My son is at a developmental age that happens to be the same as his chronological age, however he still has a horrible time making friends. We have had success with structured activities. He currently does a board game club, and we have organized video game time (even though he just thinks it is so I can "hang out" with the other moms).

    Do you have any friends with kids a bit younger than Frankie, that might be able to come over and play video games, etc, with him?? What other interests does he have?? Cody also does youth theater (although Frankie probably doesn't have the attention span for that).

    I wish I had better advice..

  2. I wish I could introduce Frankie to some kids I know. See, I teach 7th grade. I have boys who seem 15 and are really 12, I have boys who are 12-13 and seem 10. I have one boy who is almost 15 and while he talks tough and is kind of mean and bullyish- he is kind of immature. I would never let Frankie near him. I have kids who are pretty young acting for 7th grade but look like they are 14-15.

    I think it is too bad that Frnakie can't handle the public school. It would seem there would be more kids and more of a range of levels. I know kids who are in high school now (were in 8th grade last year) and unless they changed a lot over the summer would fit right with him.

    That's not advice though.

    I think you can't make Brian always have Frankie there - you can't do the You can't say you can't play ( I saw that too), but I think you need to talk to Brian and tell him that he also needs to be understanidn and that Frankie is a part of the family and we don't hurt our family when we can help it. SO he will have to let him play sometimes and he will have to be pleasant about it. You will make sure he also has sometime without Frankie. I would suggest telling Brian that if there is something that he really doens't want Frankie involved in he needs to tell you in advance and you may be able to create a diversion for Frankie. But he will have a limited number of these opportunities each month Maybe if you really spelled it out in private with Brian he would feel like he had some control and could pick and choose his battles so to speak. ( I may be talking out my butt. I have one kid and have only dealt with this in my dealings with a close friend and her kids with mine, and of course to some degree in class. I have had to have private talks with students about tolerating other kids at times.)
    Doesn't your hubby know any spec ed kids he can introduce Frankie to?

    I also think you may have to realize that right now the best options for Frankie are just older kids and adults who are being tolerant. Is there anything like the Big Brother program he can get involved in?

    I think an organized activity like Stacy mentioned would be good too.

  3. I really can spell and use correct grammar. I just can't type worth crap. I am very tired tonight and forgot to proofread before hitting publish. Please do not let the above post be a reflection of public school teachers.

  4. This is a similar problem that my friends "Jack" and "Jill" are having with their children. The oldest (adopted) daughter is constantly bossing and excluding the younger (birth) daughter.

    When "Danielle" is with them, she very willingly goes off with the older girl, and they both work very hard to exclude the younger girl.

    This is a hard problem to solve. In our case, though, we aren't dealing with a younger-acting child who is simply annoying and can't help it. This is a case where the older girls are just pushing her out because they want to and because they take pleasure in making the younger girl cry.

    I can see why this would be even harder in your case, because Frankie can't help that he annoys the other boys in your home. He just does.

    With our kids, it feels fair to mandate a certain amount of inclusiveness, because the older girls both behave much younger, so it's not unreasonable to ask them to play with the younger girl. In your case, with such huge differences in their developmental levels, I think you are stuck with a tough problem.

    I think it would be very hard to mandate the older boys "play" with Frankie.


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