The Joy You Find in a Friend

Izzie has trouble making friends. Her dad and I don’t understand why or how, but she seems to struggle with subtleties of interpersonal relationships. It’s almost like the other child gets a sense of her vulnerability and takes advantage of it. We have protocols set in place to help her with social situations at school because of her struggles with this.

Here is the latest example.

At one of her sister’s soccer games, we noticed there was a playground at the field. Izzie saw other kids her age and became excited that she may make a new friend. She walked over to the kids playing on one of the structures with a smile on her face. I manage Addie’s team so I had to go to the field first and left her at the playground. After I had given the coach the roster and girls’ player cards, I turned around to see her standing by herself clutching her bag. I walked over and asked her if she was all right. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and nodded yes. I looked over and saw one of the boys on top of the jungle gym calling out to the others like he was in Lord of the Flies. I asked her what happened.

“That boy was calling me names.” Which one? She pointed.

Oh no he didn’t.

I went over (yes, I did) to where he was sitting and called out

“Hey!” He turned and looked at me.

“Where are your parents?”

He didn’t answer me. Not a good choice.

“You like calling people names? Listen you little shit, if you call my daughter names again I will be more than happy to find your parents and commend them on a fine job they have done so far in raising you. Understand me? I’ll be watching you.”

He sat frozen, staring at me. I looked at Izzie. “Let’s go watch your sister kick some ass.”

Izzie looked at him, took my hand and we went back to the field. A few minutes later, she asked me if she could go back to the playground. She saw some girls and wanted to see if they would be interested in playing with her. She assured me she was fine. I let her go but looked over my shoulder a few times during the game to assure myself she was all right. Her dad asked me what it was about her that attracted that kind of attention. Neither one of us has an answer.

This weekend was different. It started out with her being cautious and relying on Addie to ease her into meeting the other kids. At first she was kind of shy, not sure if the girls would want to play with her. By the end of the day Saturday, she and her new friends had formed an all girl band, and sang two songs in front of everyone at the Talent Show the staff put on for us. If you have ever heard Izzie speak, you would know that sometimes she repeats sentence fragments and breathes while she is trying to speak. It’s hard for her to get out what she is trying to say. Last night she had no trouble standing in front of everyone and sing loud enough for us to hear her. Huge deal for us and for her.

Sometimes I forget how much we need the heart community and that we sell ourselves short of the benefits that come with being with other cardiac families. Since Izzie does so well medically, we have stepped away from everything heart related for a little while. However, yesterday I was reminded that we still need the heart community with more than just getting through a procedure. We and fellow parents hung out and had a discussion on what we have been going through the last few years with Covid and schools. It was refreshing to hear others talk about how hard it was getting our kids to stay engaged and learn something from a screen separated from their peers. We all struggle with IEPs and 504 plans. We listen to schools tell us that our children fall within the guidelines of normalcy while we watch them fight with homework. We all have similar stories of meetings where we are told the same thing time and time again.

I realized something else on our ride home. This weekend wasn’t just good for Izzie. Addie met other siblings who have to deal with parents who may not be available to them because of a hospital visit or endless doctor’s appointments. She got to spend time and play games with them. They exchanged phone numbers at the end and she told me that when the next camp is in May, she is willing to miss a game to go.

I’m also grateful that my relationship with their dad is at a point where we can share a small cabin with 4 twin beds in the woods and not kill each other. We even had some good laughs! Sometimes it’s not about me and what I want. Izzie needed this more than I needed sleep. She needed to know she was worthy of friendship and belonging. She needed to know she is not the only kids with a scar on her chest. Her sheer joy of being accepted by these girls was worth every sleepless minute.

One thought on “The Joy You Find in a Friend

  1. This made me sad at first with the cruel kids then proud of you for sticking up for her then happy that it was a good weekend after all ❤️❤️❤️

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