Hope this isn't seen as showing off about me but I am just bursting with pride over my AS (10).
AS has never had great taste in friends, which is think is quite common with our children, but when he first started at his new junior school, he made best friends with a child who (with hindsight) also seems to have crushing self esteem, but hides it by attacking or belittling those around him when he feels 'bad' inside (sad, jealous, angry etc).
The dynamic between them was such that they were attracted to each other but AS was constantly getting upset as this other child would say or do some very nasty things.
I have spent many many days over the last few years, after school trying to help AC through a massive meltdown and load of abuse aimed at me... and when I got to the bottom of it, it was most often because AS had had a bad day at school as he had been upset, yet again, by the friend. He had taken the abuse and not retaliated, held it in at school but it has to come out at some time...usually on me. I would rather it was me than a teacher, but it was such a difficult situation as he wouldn't want me to go into school as 'he's my friend'. They would always make up the next day and the cycle would start again. Often AS would say it was his fault that his friend had got upset as he had annoyed him (usually by doing something very innocent like drawing a 'better' picture, or not playing the game that his friend wanted).
Several times I have wondered if it might be nice to play with other children, but he has been very resolute about this boy being his best friend.....sadly, because he followed this friend round all the time, he did not really make a wide circle of friends.
Roll on to lockdown and the summer holidays this year... almost 6 months of no school and very little contact with friend (Oh so sorry we wont be able to make that day, maybe next week...) . Lots of time together for me and AS and we had a really lovely time (apart from home learning...uggh!)
So back at school from mid September. AS was again coming home, almost nightly and telling me about things his friend had said or done ...but he was moaning, not upset like he used to be. He also started telling me how when his friend had been unkind and said something nasty, he had said something nasty back! - Bit difficult as you want to say Yeah well done you, but at the same time empathise with him and say that he has to do the 'right' thing, so I had been making suggestions such as, 'why don't you see who else is playing a game you might like to join in with' .
Things seemed to be escalating; my feeling was (and I only ever get one side of the story) that AS was starting to stand up for himself a little more, the friend was feeling 'worse inside' so his behaviour towards AS was escalating. Friend was even trying to belittle him in front of the other class members and banning AS from playing in the games at break time..... He still was not keen on my talking to school. One evening we talked about the power of silence, I suggested that when his friend next said something unkind, rather than say anything back, he just look at the friend and think in his head what he would have liked to have said back, but let the friends words just hang in the air like a bad smell... roll on to this week....
AC came home with the usual tales of woe, although he liked the 'say nothing back and its like <the friend> has done a really stinky fart!' and everyone can smell it '
Then he looked at me and said (paraphrasing slightly here),
'Mum I have realised that <friend> is not my friend. If he was, he would not be so horrid to me all the time. I don't want to play with him any more, he is not my friend. He is always being unkind and upsetting me and we always always make friends again because I thought it was always my fault that I made him angry and sad because I did things wrong. Now I can see that its not always my fault and when I answer him back he just gets more horrid, I think he likes to upset me. I don't want to be with someone that wants to upset me - this is not being a friend'.
WOW! he talked about how he used to feel inside when his friend said unkind things, he talked about how he could see now that his friend says mean things when he is upset and he said he can see how his friend blames him when anything goes wrong (including to the teachers when there has been trouble). He has thought this through and has worked out for himself that he is better than to be treated like this. What a great deal of insight from a 10 year old!
I am soooo proud of him. Its been a hard few years with this one and many many times when I was the brunt of his great anger, upset and frustration over this and its felt a bit like me hitting my head against a brick wall, but what this really shows to me is progress.
My lovely, funny, kind hearted AS who has on many occasions said he is a waste of space, a weirdo, a bad person inside, stupid and rotten and doesn't deserve to be alive is subtly changing his view of himself... he realises that he does not need to stay in a negative relationship where he is emotionally mistreated. He values himself enough not to put himself through this anymore as he has recognised it makes him very unhappy. His view of himself as an individual is becoming kinder and he is realising he can make his own choices even if it upsets the status quo.... and that is just brilliant, amazing and wonderful!
My heart is bursting with love and pride for him and this achievement... and (the showing off bit) for me too as I have helped, through lots of listening, conversations, hugs, support and love (and abuse!) and this sort of breakthrough makes it all 10000% worth it.