Alone By Yourself

I’m at home right now, visiting my mother for a couple of weeks. Tonight I got dragged along to help her out at her children’s choir rehearsal at church tonight, being that the main leader is out of town (on rather short notice, I might add).

Other than being less nervous about being in front of a group, there was another significant thing that happened tonight.

I have this gift (among others that I’ll someday write all about-ish). I can spot the loner in a crowd. Sometimes this is an easy thing to do and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the loner blends in to the point where you think they’re part of everything going on, but really, they’re not.

The group this evening was divided via the first method. There were all of these bright, chipper, skinny kids all sitting in there, chatting away like they’d been best friends for years (which probably they had been, as much as a 10-12 can have in terms of years), and there were these two girls just sitting on the front row, not involved with any of it.

At first, in fact, there was only one girl. She wore glasses and was a bit bigger than the other kids. When she first got there, there were two seats between her and the next kid. I’ve known this kid just from having been in that church for a while; so when I gave her a head jerk to the right indicating she should try scooting down the row a bit, she acknowledged and did—a seat.

Later, another girl sat down next to her. She was small, skinny and quiet. You could tell; you know, just by looking.

So about a third of the way into, during one of those reconnoitering moments that you do when the group leader is out of town and you don’t know who has what part, I went over there to talk to them. The whole group of kids were interacting, ‘cept for these two. They were completely alone, sitting right next to each other.

I say to them, “Look, you’re both not talking to anyone; so why not talk to each other?” And the bigger girl says, “Oh, she goes to my school.” So? And that means???

So I say, “Oh good. Then you know each other already.”

*scratches head*

There’s something about kids who are ostracized that doesn’t let them think about reaching out to others in the same state. I was that way a bit, I think. I’m not anymore, obviously, but I was at one time. That’s a thought for another post, I think.

Let me tell you about something similar that happened while I was student teaching.

We had gone with a group to go try out for all-state band. A whole bunch of different schools rode together–high school and middle school–since, not a whole lot of kids were eligible to go try out for all-state band. We were part of the western district (of NC), which is a bit smaller than some, I think.

ELIGIBLE FOR NC HONORS BAND AUDITIONS FROM EACH DISTRICT

Middle, High School (9/10) and Senior High (11/12) Bands

4 Flutes

2 Oboes

2 Bassoons

1 Eb Clarinet

6 Bb Clarinets

2 Alto Clarinets

2 Bass Clarinets

1 Contrabass Clarinet

2 Alto Saxophones

1 Tenor Saxophone

1 Baritone Saxophone

5 Trumpets

3 French Horns

3 Trombones

2 Baritones

2 Tubas

1 String Bass

2 Snare Drums

1 Mallet

1 Timpani

On the way back, we stopped somewhere to eat (Golden Chorale, maybe–I don’t know), and me, being the student teacher that I was, got to sit with the adults. Yippee!!! Right? Yeah, well, that’s a story for another day.

Anyways, I noticed that there was this girl eating by herself. No one sat down with her, no one said hi. She was pretty well alone, I’d say.

Being that I’m somewhat spontaneous and inventive, in some ways, I suddenly stood up. I walked across the way, past the girl, and went to another table of similarly aged high schoolers. There were only three of them there and I had been watching them too, during this time. You know aspies; we watch everything. It’s just something we do.

They didn’t seem to be too preppy like– all-state tryouts are sometimes, but not as a usual rule (not in NC anyways, and not in the Western district). I mean, we’re talking hardcore band geeks here. They’re pretty cool folks. That’s partially why I did my undergrad in instrumental music ed; I like that kind of folk.

So I walk over to this other group of three (none of which from my school, mind you), and say howdy. They seem like pretty nice kids to me. My radar for snarky types is pretty good, since I survived middle school and high school in a less than friendly environment. This lack of snarkiness is why I picked them to say hi to.

I said to them, “You all see that girl over there?”

They said that they did.

I didn’t even ask what they thought of her, I just said these next words: “If I were to bring her over here, do you think you all could find something to talk about?”

They said that they didn’t think that’d be too hard. I love my radar. *pats radar*

So I told them to hold on for a bit, and I walked over to her.

“Howdy.” Remember, I was a student teacher; so while I wasn’t cool, you still had to notice my presence.

“Hey.”

“Why are sitting alone?” I asked.

She shrugs.

“I have an idea,” I said. “Pick up your food and follow me.”

I led her back over to the table. I said, “Can she sit here?”

They smiled and said, “Sit down.”

When I looked back later on, they were laughing together, like for real. Almost as if they’d been friends all along or something.

Later on that night, her band director came over to me and told me thank you. She’d been alone all year, but after that dinner, she even sat with them on the way back.

I don’t know if it lasted past that night, but I like to think that it did.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on May 14, 2008.

13 Responses to “Alone By Yourself”

  1. This blog made me smile. 😀
    **You definitely have a gift.** And that one girl on the band trip, well, I guarantee she’ll never forget what you did for her.

    I believe that I have “radar” too. When you parent an aspie, you begin to pick up on the aspie traits/behaviors of individuals in a crowd.

    Glad you are having a good visit!!

  2. Honestly, had someone done that to me- what you did to that girl- I would have panicked, shut down, dissociated to at least some level, and probably internally freaked. I would have been unable to say “no” to you, since you were an ‘adult’ and therefore in a position of at least some level of ‘control’, so I would have done as I was told- got up and moved my tray and then tried to be ‘social’ all the while my head would have been screaming “may day! may day! get yourself Out Of Here Now!!!” But moving back to the seat I had chosen alone would have meant that I was ‘disobeying’ the teacher and you as the ‘teacher’ had the power to make my life really hellish, and the kids would have known why I left their table and they had the power to make my life really hellish for looooong after this little ‘event’. I would have been completely stuck between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes sitting alone is a lot less lonely than you think. And much safer.

  3. Also after an event as overwhelming as stressful as a band audition, I would wanted the alone downtime to be able to eat my dinner and not have to talk to anyone or think quickly or act ‘socially acceptable’ or filter out their chatter before having to get on an incredibly noisy bus filled with strange people (since you said kids from both high school and middle school were on the bus) for the remainder of the ride home.

  4. Wow. You have a wonderful gift. I wish someone had been able to do that for me when I was in school. Often, those who have been ostracised, or are just used to being on their own, are the bst people to help others in a similar situation. Great post.

  5. Now, come on Katrin, you have to give me more credit than that. There are two types of alone kids: 1st type is alone by choice, 2nd is not. This kid kept coming up to talk to the band director and tell him things. I watched this kid’s eyes when she sat down. She didn’t see anyone she knew or was friends with.

    #2 – Besides, you haven’t experienced my charms. 🙂 I’m willing to bet that my best friend that I made in undergrad would have said the same things that you just did. I made friends with her nearly the same way. She’s very shy (until you get to know her that is).

    I found her sitting alone in the caf one day and started talking to her about books (she was reading a book). Next thing you know, according to her, I told her I thought she should come sit with me, and was dragging her across the caf. My memory’s a little hazy here . . . I don’t remember dragging . . . exactly. She’s also about 6 feet tall and solidly built, while I topped out at 5’5″.

    We’ve been best friends ever since. She said that with anyone else, she would have just said no or swatted them or something. Me though, I don’t know.

  6. wow… 6′? cool! 🙂

    apart from that, I’m definitely with katrin. Of course not to suggest anything untoward about the efficacy of your radar *pats radar*

  7. Yes there are 2 types of alone kids, but you didn’t say that, most people don’t understand there are more than 1 tpye of ‘being alone’.

    And nope I don’t know your charms. Glad it worked out with your friend.

  8. Ah, I see your point.

  9. Hey 🙂 I wish I had someone like you around where i am. I still kinda sit alone or pretend to blend in. usualy i just sit and stair at some imaginary spot that leaves the rest of the world blurry and out of focus. It feels safe in that little world but it does get mighty lonely at times. Im glad you have good radar skills 🙂

    Chey

  10. lastcrazyhorn: good for you. I’m glad you helped that girl. There were times in school where I too wished someone had done that for me. I also understand where katrin is coming from. I’ve felt that way too sometimes, especially at family gatherings/visiting relatives.

    The Integral

  11. Great blog! Thanks for pointing it out to me. You’re a fantastic writer! I hope you call in to the show sometime or that we get to meet.

  12. You did a wonderful thing, and you have a great blog! I’m glad I stumble upon this.

  13. I kind of have to go with Katrin on this one. My reaction would have been very similar to hers.

    As I was reading your post, I was thinking of all kinds of other reasons why the girl could have been sitting alone (some based on my own experience) – eg, she could have been REALLY hungry, and unable to concentrate on eating and talking at the same time. (For me as a kid, and still now to some extent, eating was eating and socialising was socialising, and mixing the two was only possible if i wasn’t hungry enough to actually NEED to eat.) Or the other girls could have insulted or said bigoted things about her in the past, or abused or hurt her in any other ways, and so she just didn’t want to be anywhere near them. Or something major could have just happened inher life, which he didn’t feel comfortable talking about, and she needed some processing time…. etc, etc, etc…

    Or she could just *prefer* eating alone, no reason (other than her individual preferences) necessary…

    Also, with facial expressions, i REALLY strongly feel that you should NEVER assume that a facial expression (or any other form of “body language”) means what it looks to you like it means, or indeed means anything at all (this goes for whether you are autistic or neurotypical, and whether you know the person you are observing is autistic/neurotypical/whatever or not). My facial expressions are very, very often read as indicating emotions completely different to what i am feeling – for example, once on a holiday in Spain, I was sitting looking at the landscape and feeling utterly happy, relaxed and contented, when someone who I thought knew me very, very well came up to me and said “Steve, you look REALLY pissed off” – which (this was pre-diagnosis) caused me to spiral into confusion and paranoia at how i could be “read” so wrongly, and into one of those truly despairing “WTF is worng with me?” moments that i repressed for so long…

    Anyway, i’m glad that this situation worked out positively, but, well… it could have *really* not done.

    And i can sympathise with the whole “kids who are ostracised not being able to reach out to others in the same position” thing. It really frustrated me – i always dreamed of all the “uncool” kids getting together to challenge that cultural hegemony of the “cool” kids, but it never really happened. That’s aconcept for much further thought and deconstruction, anyway…

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