Adey came to see me because he had no friends. And yet he is a delightful boy. He is 9, smiles a lot, and is good company. He seems bright. He is an only child and his parents were worried that he was never invited to other peoples’ houses and people never came to his house more than once.
The family are comfortably off and the parents have a very active social life. There is a local girl who babysits regularly, Adey says he likes her. It is not clear that he minds the situation particularly; his mother did most of the talking at our first appointment. She said that even at big events – e.g. the annual BBQ they have at home – Adey just lets things happen around him and doesn’t actually get involved if he can help it.
At the second appointment, I spent some time alone with Adey. It was not difficult … he chatted cheerfully about all sorts although mostly in answer to questions from me. He was not sure why his mum was making such a fuss. He enjoyed his life – he said he felt he had enough company at school, and at home felt that it was enough to do his homework, play some games and talk alongside the baby-sitter when she came. He did say that his father was upset that he didn’t enjoy sport particularly – Father supports Liverpool FC but also enjoys watching anything sporty on TV, including athletics – but, as he pointed out, Adey finds it boring.
It all felt rather rational.
There is extended family, and the boy brightened up especially when he talked about his maternal grandmother. His grandfather is dead and his grandmother lives about an hour away so he doesn’t see her very often. When he does – and his parents sometimes drop him off for the weekend, he has a great time. What do you do? I asked. They bake together and walk the dog. That’s it. But Adey sparkled as he talked about making cakes and watching the Great British Bake-Off together.
When I saw his Mum alone, I asked about her Mum. She worries about her too – her Mum was only interested in baking and walking the dog. She apparently sits by herself in the evenings and watched television and rarely goes out. She has always been like that. Mum described her parents as ‘Home Birds’, and couldn’t understand how they could be happy doing so little.
And that seems to be the problem. There isn’t a problem. Its just that Adey has a different temperament to his parents. They love to go out and socialize and feel any evening that is spent by themselves is wasted. Adey is more like his Mum’s parents who enjoy their own home and their own company. He’s fine: he likes to bake, he likes to amuse himself, he likes peace and quiet. And he hasn’t really found children like that to be friends with.
I need to spend some time talking with both parents together about this, and maybe Adey should try Scouts or something in order to make his parents feel a little better. But if he continues with his baking, he’ll probably find that he will make friends, even if they only come for the cakes!!!