January 13, 2011

Teenage boys

Alex wants a boyfriend more than anything in the whole world, she will even settle for someone who is not Justin Bieber.

I wrote earlier about T, a boy with down syndrome at a neighboring high school. T and Alex have declared themselves to be boyfriend/girlfriend, but they rarely see each other. They are on the same Special Olympic team – but this season Alex is skiing and T is snowshoeing and their paths do not cross. Our schedules have been quite busy with basketball and other events, so I have not had the opportunity to check in with T's family about a "date".

I did not realize this, but this boyfriend in name only is not enough for Alex. Alex wants a boyfriend that she sees in the hall, one who cheers for her at basketball games and helps her with her books. This is not an unusual desire for Alex to have; many of the girls she knows at school have boyfriends, just like Alex wants. She has wants just like her peers, and she should have those realized just like her peers.

I did not know how obsessed Alex was about this until last night. Alex bounded in the car with the biggest smile on her face, exclaiming, "Mom, S said J wants to be my boyfriend". I tried to probe a little harder, but as always Alex shares her personal information with me on a "need to know basis". As my heart was breaking and the tears welling in my eyes, I tried to ask more questions. Alex shut up like a clam, and I knew immediately this was a teenage boy prank.

When we came home Alex was very secretive, leaving the room with her phone. I believe she was either texting or calling J, her "new boyfriend". Alex is the queen of the text, and god forbid you do not text her back. She will resend and resend. Personally I think S gave Alex J's phone number to further his prank. Hopefully Alex did not bug him too much.

I went to sleep so upset and concerned about my sweet daughter and the heartbreak and betrayal she would feel when she learned the truth. Alex is very intuitive and knows when kids are laughing at her or making fun of her. This does not happen too often, but is one of the things that sends her into a funk for days. After our progress with the basketball team I knew this would create an issue with practice, thus play time and Alex's confidence on the basketball court.

I contacted Alex's teacher by e-mail and the speed at which this was investigated and resolved astounded me. Alex met with her counselor right away this morning, so the counselor could get the details I could not. The boys were identified and S was hauled in to the Office. He met with Alex and the counselor and explained to Alex he was very sorry, it was meant to be a joke and he did not mean to hurt her feelings at all.

As many of us know, this is very typical teen behavior, but our high school made it very clear this was completely unacceptable. S's parents will be called in (who we know – and are good people who have always supported Alex) and his actions will be scrutinized for the rest of the year. He is in big trouble. I know S is a good kid, I have known him for three years, but all kids, and especially teenage boys need to learn respect. I hope this is a lesson for him as well as his peers.

There was good news that came out of this. Not only was Alex able to communicate this event with clarity and emotion to her counselor, she was able to process it in a mature way. She cried when she understood what had happened, but graciously thanked S for apologizing. She went to her coach before basketball practice and explained she did not feel well and wanted to skip practice. The coach was very gracious, but explained there were two basketball games coming up and she needed to participate in the practice. When Alex called me to say she did not want to practice, I too encouraged her to play. I also bribed her with a mommy/daughter dinner date after practice. I hate to do it, but sometimes I just have to bribe Alex with a restaurant date, it always works.

So the good news - Alex has matured considerably. The bad news - this should never have happened in the first place. How can anyone use a person with special needs as the joke, where is compassion, caring and acceptance? Unfortunately that is a rhetorical question. We can only educate and provide awareness and hope (I mean insist) others hear us. We will succeed!


  1. I'm so sorry this happened to Alex. Hopefully S will see how much pain his 'joke' caused her and will become a better person because of it. Alex was very kind to forgive him. You've got quite a girl!

  2. That is so sad! I'm glad you were able to get to the bottom of it and hope that Alex wasn't hurt too bad. This boyfriend thing is driving us crazy!! I told Cassie the other day that she did NOT need a boyfriend, just friends. Somehow, I don't think she bought it!

  3. Thanks Cindy and Jan - yes boyfriend issues are tough...and a little tougher for our special kids, just like me - Alex will get through this!

  4. I'm sorry to hear that this happened, but am so glad that the situation was fixed quickly too.

  5. I just feel so bad for Alex. IMO this is a form of bullying, really, because there was no way Alex could have seen through the "joke." I have several children with autism and they often don't get when they're being mocked openly. :(


Thanks for your note, we love hearing from you!