It’s always difficult dropping off Frances at school: she always says that she doesn’t want to go, that she hates school, that she wants to stay home with me.
These statements can be chalked up to anxiety of the mostly anticipatory kind. She worries. A lot.
But there is yet another reason because of which taking her to school is not easy: the absence of social language and social behaviour. For example, though we are accustomed to not hearing goodbyes or being greeted when we get home, it is altogether another story when you leave a young child of whom you’re uncertain actually knows that you’re leaving.
On one day in January 2014, I stood in the doorway in my underwear blowing kisses for the first time. It was incredible — and Frances was already almost 7 years old.
Until this past September, in fact, Frances did not say or do anything if someone left or if she was walking out the door. At the start of the school year, Frances began to say, “See you tomorrow” as she left. It was enough for me!
Most parents can count on even a little, half-hearted wave, hug, goodbye, or slight glance at dropoff, and this would be reassuring to me. I still say goodbye, tell her I love her, and hug her if she lets me. But, by the time that she is on a mat or at her desk, she has already shut down.
Yes, leaving her at school, at times, has been heartbreaking, because I know that, had she wanted me to stay longer, she would be devastated to discover that I’d already left. (Separation anxiety and extreme emotional sensitivity are very prominent in her.)
So, despite the fact that she is highly verbal (and holds discussions that one would expect of an adult), she has struggled very noticeably with social (pragmatic) language and gestures.
I could recount so many humorous or cute (or even awkward) moments in which pragmatic language has been the issue, but I’ll save that for another time.