Aimee had a good following on Instagram and Twitter. She had over eight hundred Facebook friends. Her posts were preternaturally upbeat in the abbreviated speak of her classmates, describing many imaginary “totes amaze” days. She described concerts she never attended, and boyfriends she didn’t have as part of an online life of invention, all fabricated, but for that one honest “emo” post where Aimee wrote how she wanted to kill herself.
Aimee was both annoyed and pleased that the post landed her a meeting with the school counselor. She was pleased that anyone read her posts, since she didn’t truly know almost any of her hundreds of “friends and followers”. She was annoyed that the school counselor wanted to talk. The counselor introduced her family to a Therapeutic Mentor for Aimee as part of a team of services. The mentor’s job is to link Aimee to a community of support and connection.
The first thing sixteen year old Aimee said when she opened the door to see her Therapeutic Mentor Maria was, “MOM! She’s OLD!”
Middle aged Maria was undeterred. She discovered that when Aimee was not online, she was teaching herself to knit. Maria did her research. When she walked Aimee into her first knitters meeting, the group leader exclaimed, “MARIA! She’s a BABY!” Of the six women in the knitting group, Aimee was the youngest by sixty years.
Knitting patterns have their own shorthand. There’s “beg” for “beginning”, “sl” for “slipping”, “tog” for “together”, “wyif” for “with yarn in front.”
The group of grandmothers helped Aimee start at the beginning. Together, they encouraged her to join activities at school. They talked about the friendships they’d made and how to keep and care for a good friend, unplugged. They told her the signs of control and abuse to look for in a dating relationship. Aimee talked to them when she began slipping into anxiety and darkness. They made her laugh; they loved her, with yarn in front.
They all fully expect good grades and kind friends and dating partnersfor her. They expect to help her keep both. They expect to stand at her graduation, long after her mentor closes services. Behind those precious pictures of her knitting friends and the things they make, which Aimee will post, will be hundreds of hours of listening, talking, hands reaching over to help unravel and start again.
By JAC Patrissi