Wednesday, February 22, 2006


One of Son's troubles is that he will try too hard to make friends. Trying too hard involves taking on all the arrangements; feeling that he has to come up with a plan for a game in which he is instigator and producer and ultimately (although he doesn't see it that way), boss.

He comes on too strong, his efforts are too desperate but appear controlling and he scares people off.

I can only hope that out of this disability will come a lifetime desire to understand the intricacies of how people tick - a self imposed degree course in manners and human fallibility and need and making others feel wanted and validated. Its a real likelihood; unless he gets too wrapped up in the concept that they are all miserable so-and-sos and nobody understands him. It has to flip on its head - he has to realise that if he understands them instead, then he can modulate what he says and does to be in their specific language.

Anyway, yesterday's end-of-the-world scenario came about because he was posting to a forum - a games forum where, after a shaky start getting to grips with the concept of spamming, they allowed him to stay and he now has forum friends who take him by what he has to say. Its great, plus I seem to have ultimate control now over what he says and how he says it because he wants to give a good impression. These guys and this forum are important to him. He will sneak on to the boards, but if he wants to post, he ends up asking me how to spell every second word and even asking me to read and edit so that he doesn't look silly.

Before visiting the boards he had signed into an online game. He was winning. Because he was winning, somebody made him their 'buddy', ie had the computer record them as a team, so they couldn't shoot each other. It was probably a tactic on the other kid's part, but to Son it was like six birthdays and a Christmas all at once - all he saw was that somebody liked him, just because of his skill.

The post he then went to make was not a suggestion, but a rather imperious sounding announcement that he would be formulating a team to play this game - he assumed forum users would rush to sign up and be on his team and then he would have more 'buddies'. There was no telling him that he sounded pushy and would put people off, he was too enthused. We fought over whether he could post it or not, I insisted no, and he ignored me, becoming increasingly belligerent. In the end I had to crash his dad's computer to cut the broadband access and save him from himself.

That's when all the excuses came out - how he 'needed' this forum, how he felt he was really a fifteen year old trapped in an 11 year old's body, how none of the kids at school understood him and his only hope of ever having any friends (and not being morbidly lonely and tormented) was to relate on forums.

I spent the night in torment, exhausted from his refusal yesterday to budge from his position, listen or relate and also worried, not just about the facts of his case (which are probably true) but about how much this was really affecting him.

Today is a new day and Son might as well be a new boy.

"So, think you might have a really good day today?" says I, tentatively.

"Oh, yes, I think so" he replies. "Yes I will. And I'm really glad I got all that off my chest yesterday. Thanks mum."

He gave me a lovely smile like yesterday was a storm in a teacup, nothing more, and I realised then that, of the two of us, I was the only one who spent the night feeling shipwrecked by it.

When I wrote yesterdays post, I really did feel I had hit a brick wall; that the only thing that could change to take these situations down a notch or two, was him. I was wrong, obviously. Time to revamp my reactions, for my own sake.


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