The First

     There was this girl in seventh grade that I just thought about for the first time in well, more years than I care to add up. She was weird. She didn't talk much--if at all. I don't even know if she could speak now that I try to think about it. I know she could growl! I know that she was incredibly strong, especially considering that she was built like a bird; small, fast and light. She would squeeze peoples' arms so hard that she would leave bruises....
     She was very weird. We weren't friends. I was never mean to her, or teased her, or even said bad things about her behind her back. I tried to be nice but I don't know if that's because it was the right thing to do or because I was afraid of her. I mean, she growled at people, for goodness sakes! And then there was this one time that she squeezed my arm so hard that she left bruises from where her nails dug into my flesh. I had these little half-moon shaped bruises for a week. But I never told anyone.
     I don't know if she moved away after seventh grade or if I just didn't have her in class anymore. You're so egotistical at that age that if something isn't right in front of your face all the time you forget about it. I haven't thought about her in years.

     Candy has been on my mind for the past couple of days--Candy was the girl's name. I think I understand something that my seventh grade brain didn't know anything about at the time. Candy wasn't mean. I don't think she meant to hurt me at all--in fact, just the opposite! I think she squeezed me because I had been kind to her. She squeezed me because she liked me and because she thought I was her friend. The reason I think this is because my daughter does the exact same thing to people she likes. Looking back I see that Candy and Myraim share so many traits. I believe that Candy was autistic too.
     Myriam got pushed down by another little girl at recess the other day. The girl was from a different class. Myriam called the little girl a boy and it made the girl mad so she pushed my daughter and knocked her down. I'm not upset at the little girl for pushing my daughter; altercations happen. In the grand scheme of things this was pretty mild. But I wish I could explain to that little girl in a way that she would understand, that Myriam wasn't calling her a name. It was echolalia--one of her catch phrases that she uses because she knows that she should be saying something but she doesn't know what. This was Myriam's way of reaching out to this little girl and saying, "I want to be your friend." It just came out all wrong.
     And so it reminds me of Candy and how she was also probably trying to reach out and all I saw was the difference--the weird. I know this is going to be the first of many times that my daughter's attempts to socialize will go awry. I can only hope that others will see past the weird to the little girl that wants to be friends.
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