By Nathalie Donaldson
I’ve always had a hard time making friends. It’s not that I never tried because I have. The other kids at school just don’t seem to like me. I think that’s why I have Jenny. But Jenny can be really bossy and when I play with her at school the other kids begin to laugh at me and call me weird. I don’t think they like Jenny.
One time, Jenny and I were playing on the swings and Nina Taffley came over to the swing Jenny was on. I told her it was she couldn’t swing because Jenny was swinging, but Nina said she didn’t see her. I knew Nina was just being mean and trying to make me feel bad. That made Jenny really mad, so she hopped off the swing and told me to let Nina swing, but to push her off because that’s what a good friend would do. I didn’t want to be a bad friend so I did what she said. But as soon as I did, Nina fell off the swing and started to cry, and Jenny left.
All the other kids on the playground were standing around staring at me and whispering. I felt really sad about what I’d done, and Jenny had left me to get in trouble alone. Ms. Simmons came running over as soon as she saw everyone standing around Nina, and I had to tell her that I was the one who pushed Nina, but it wasn’t my fault because Nina had been mean to Jenny first! Ms. Simmons looked at me kind of funny and said I had to come inside with her.
She called my parents and told them what happened on the playground… she also said that they had to come in so we could all talk together about my friend Jenny.
I thought they were going to be really mad at me, but they weren’t. They just said that they thought it would be better if I stayed home from school for a little while.
That was the first time Jenny got me in trouble. But pretty soon she got me to do even worse things. Like when she came to my family Christmas party.
I’d just turned seven years old and Jenny hadn’t been around for a few weeks. My parents said they were happy to see her go and that maybe we could go to the family Christmas party this year as long as I didn’t invite her. I promised I wouldn’t because I didn’t like Jenny very much anymore. She always got me in trouble.
I was so excited to see my family and unwrap all my presents with my cousins. It had been a long time since I’d seen them. My cousin Sarah used to go to school with me before my mom decided to teach me at my house. Sarah was always a little nicer than the other kids, but it was still hard for me to play with her with Jenny around.
We opened all the presents from our aunts and uncles, and Sarah and I decided to play with her new Barbie dream house.
That’s when Jenny showed up.
She didn’t like when I played with other kids, especially Sarah. She didn’t like Sarah because Sarah was nice to me and played with me. I knew Jenny would be mad… But I’ve always liked playing with Sarah. She’s fun and doesn’t make me do things I don’t want to. Jenny was really mad... I tried to tell her she shouldn’t be mad and we could all play together, but she wouldn’t listen to me.
Sarah started to cry, and my parents came in to see what was going on. And that’s when Jenny grabbed me and pushed me into Sarah. Sarah fell and hit her head on the brick fireplace, but I caught myself before hitting the ground. Sarah didn’t open her eyes, and her parents rushed over and pushed me out of the way.
After that everything became a little fuzzy. An ambulance came and took Sarah to the hospital. Then another one came for me. My parents said I didn’t have to go, but Grandma insisted I needed to take a test. I still don’t know what she means…
We spent a long time at the hospital. Sarah ended up being okay, but she hit her head real bad and had to lie in bed for a while. The doctors took a little longer with me… and Jenny never showed up so I had to be the one in trouble.
After what felt like forever, the doctors said there was only one thing they could do to help me. My parents looked really sad and started hugging each other. But they said they understood that it’s what would be best.
My mom walked over to my bed and told me that Jenny was a bad friend to me, and that I had to go somewhere that she couldn’t bother me so much. I didn’t want to go anywhere but home, but I also didn’t want Jenny to keep doing this to me.
Now I’m here in this small white room. With blank walls and nothing in it. The people here make me wear pajamas all the time. They’re really soft and plain, but they come in different colors. The ones I’m wearing now are pink. Pink’s my favorite color. But not bright pink, I like pale pink.
And I have a nice lady named Doctor Wood follow me around everywhere I go. She follows me with a pen and paper and writes things down when I say them. I think it’s to see how what I say changes. At least, that’s what she told me when I asked her. She said I’m not weird and that the kids at school just don’t understand me. She also said that I “have a condition.” I’m not really sure what that means, but she said Jenny was my “condition” and that I shouldn’t worry because “conditions can change with time and help.”
I really miss my room at my house. I miss my mom tucking me in, and my dad kissing my forehead to say goodnight. I miss my pink blanket, and my soft teddy, and my cloud night-light. I miss the way my mom sings when she cooks, and watching my dad take off his boots when he gets home from work. I think about these things and it makes me sad.
I’ve been here a few months, and Jenny’s only come to visit me one time, but she didn’t stay long before Doctor Wood made her leave. I guess “conditions” really can change. But I don’t know how long they can make Jenny stay away because she can be really nosy. When she doesn’t come to visit, a lot of the time I hear her yelling at me to stop listening to everyone else, but I can’t see her. Doctor Wood says I scrunch up my face every time it happens. So when it does, she plays music and asks me to lie down and tell her a story. I like telling her stories. A lot of them I make up myself, but she knows that so I’m not a liar.
Sometimes my mom and dad visit me. They bring me homemade meals and little treats and sit with me in this little room. Sometimes Doctor Wood comes too and I give her a cookie. We sit and talk about our days and I ask how home is. My mom usually cries when she sees me and that makes me really sad. My dad just sits and stares at the wall. Doctor Wood says it’s normal. My mom misses me, and my dad is just sad that he can’t help me.
I’m still not sure what I need help with though. It’s not even my fault I’m here, its Jenny’s. But they all say I need to be here to be safe from Jenny. I don’t like Jenny and I don’t like what she makes me do, but she’s never hurt me before. I tried telling that to Doctor Wood but she said that Jenny was “hurting me a lot more then I knew,” and that one day I might understand.
It doesn’t seem like I’ll be going home anytime soon. Jenny doesn’t visit me but she still talks to me in my head, and Doctor Wood says there’s not much we can do until that stops. I guess I don’t mind it that much because Doctor Wood is nice and she keeps me company, but I wish I had friends to play with every once in awhile.
I noticed there were other kids here too, and Doctor Wood says that a lot of them have friends like Jenny too. She says that in a little while I can meet some of the kids because they’ll understand me better. I really like that idea but it makes me nervous. Jenny doesn’t like when I play with other kids and that’s usually when she comes to visit me. When Doctor Wood talks to me about meeting the other kids, that’s when Jenny talks to me in my head. So I scrunch up my face and Doctor Wood plays that nice music and I tell her a story. That’s why Doctor Wood says I have to wait. I have to wait until Jenny leaves me for good and I really hope that’s soon.