Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Frankie's Response

So he came home and I told him about the cat. I told him that it was okay to be sad and it was okay if he wasn't sad. He hadn't known the cat very well at all. He said that was true. He was always sad when an animal died, but it was worse if you were close to them.

Then he said, "What I'm really sad about is that I can't find my knight. Do you know where it is? I know it isn't in my room. This is how I searched it: first..."

I listened and then told him that I didn't know where it was.

Later he came and said that he asked Brian to help him look but Brian wouldn't help. I said that Brian was very sad about the cat and now was a bad time to ask him. Frankie allowed that that was true, but then wondered how he could look to see if he left it in Brian's room if Brian wouldn't help. I said he would just have to wait. He started to get emotional about how important this toy was and how he couldn't replace it. I said I understood, and then I didn't say anything else.

A few minutes later he came into the kitchen, "'Hubby' said he was going to get the computer after school. When do you think he will be back?"

"Well, school got out just a little bit ago. It will take half an hour to drive each way and it might take 10 or minutes for someone at the store to have time to help him."

"So he should be home any time now, huh?"


So...being the theorizing woman I am, here are my thoughts:
1. He doesn't know how to process his grief about the death of our cat.
2. He feels uncomfortable being not sad around people who are sad. He doesn't know how to cope with that situation so he needs very much to create a different situation -- one in which his needs are the biggest in the room and other people respond to him.
3. He really feels bad about losing his knight, so bad in fact that the only thing that is more important is getting that computer back.

I'm leaning towards #2.


  1. What about the following alternative explanation?

    4) Frankie doesn't feel particularly sad about the cat and isn't able to express (or perhaps doesn't have) sympathy for other people. He lives in a world where only his needs really matter.

    I know that's a pretty pessimistic viewpoint, but I'm feeling that way after a pretty crummy exchange with our social worker today.

  2. I agree with #4, sadly. Isn't that part of RAD? And Asperger's?

    It just seems like this is typical Frankie, unconcerned about the world, except for the parts that directly affect his current obsession.

  3. I agree with number 2. And I don't think it's that different from number 4.

    Although, I know very few people who are comfortable and able to cope well around sad people. Look at our culture and how we avoid death, and sometimes people who are grieving.

  4. 4. Aspbergers or something on the spectrum.
    5. Is emotionally stunted and has to learn to give OTHER PEOPLE emotional space.
    6. I dunno

  5. I'm leaning toward what Foster Abba said or some variation.

    He either can't feel that kind of sadness or he does and doesn't know what to do about it so he buries it and changes the subject.

    But he donated his t-shirt. That must mean something.

  6. I agree with FosterAbba's #4 and granny (since we seem to be taking a poll). I don't think her #4 is necessarily pessimistic, though. I don't know Frankie's history, but it sounds like a multitude of foster kids we've known. He may eventually learn to empathize with others, make attachments (to cats, as well as people), and to feel and express sympathy, but those things take time - even years, sometimes. And living in a world where only his needs matter is a survival skill many kids develop. With a family who is commited to him, he should be able to make progress in all these areas. He's blessed to have you.
    I'm sorry about your loss.

  7. I vote for number 2.


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