How Do You Help a Desperate Girl?

A mother seeks help when she catches her daughter in an elaborate lie.

Sonia Billadeau April 12, 2014
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pinocchioMy heart is breaking for my daughter tonight, and at the same time, I’m just sick over her behavior toward yet another girl that could have been a friend if it weren’t for Kaylyn’s actions. The latest incident started when a nice girl at school let Kaylyn borrow a cool pair of tennis shoes for an activity on the last day of school. So far so good. The problem started when the girl left school early that day, and Kaylyn, in her infinite wisdom, decided to leave the shoes outside the girl’s locker- not bring them home and return them later. Leave them out in the open among hordes of kids on the last day of school. I’m sure you can guess where this is going.

Act Two began when the girl started texting to ask for her shoes back. Now, she didn’t text Kaylyn because Kaylyn didn’t like the cell phone we gave her (it wasn’t an iPhone, you see), so she did not deign to keep it. Rather Kaylyn had given out my husband’s cell phone number. I only found out about the texts coming to my husband’s phone after several days of them. Apparently he had directed Kaylyn to text the girl back to resolve the problem. Kaylyn solved the problem by deleting the text conversation she had with the girl so that we wouldn’t know the content.

Meanwhile as we asked her why this girl thought Kaylyn had her shoes, Kaylyn strenuously insisted that she had no idea. I’m a firm believer that if it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true, but Kaylyn was unmovable in her denial that she had no knowledge of the shoes. It was only when I texted the friend back and asked her to contact me about the problem directly that the whole story came out. The girl was actually very nice. All she wanted was her shoes back. When I showed Kaylyn the detailed text about when she had borrowed the shoes, she finally cracked! Yes. All this time she had been lying. Lying to the friend that she didn’t know what shoes she was talking about. Lying to us that the girl must have her confused with another Kaylyn. Kaylyn and I drove over the girl’s house and reimbursed her for the missing shoes.

I don’t know how to help Kaylyn. How is she ever going to have friends if she continues to burn them? I’m sure these fifteen-year-old girls talk. If Kaylyn doesn’t slow down, there won’t be any girls left to be friends with that she hasn’t already burned.

Kaylyn said she was afraid of getting in trouble, that’s why she lied. I know her fear has nothing to do with us, but I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “What were you so afraid of? Did you think we would beat you? Set you on fire?” She said no, she didn’t really know what she was so afraid of. She also said that when she lies, she doesn’t feel ashamed of herself for having done something bad like not returning the girl’s shoes. Then later she feels so much more ashamed of herself. But the kicker is that she has never managed to incorporate the lesson (that she experiences over and over and over) that she feels worse (and gets in more trouble) for lying than for telling the truth.

To see and feel the effort and passion she put into that lie, and to know that she didn’t care one whit about the girl and her shoes, or how the girl felt about not getting her shoes back—especially after she’d been kind enough to lend them to Kaylyn—to see that all Kaylyn cared about was self-preservation breaks my heart and makes me ill. How do you help a girl that’s so desperate she can’t even see how she’s alienating every girl she frantically chases after? Of all the problems any of my three RAD kids have faced, this is the most disturbing. I’m not sure Kaylyn has the capacity to have any friendships if she’s so driven by irrational fear and primitive self-preservation. All I can say is I’m grateful for the counselor. Maybe she can offer some hope. I know mine is sinking for my poor, sweet, good-girl of a daughter who is so desperate I can’t reach her.

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Sonia Billadeau


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