June 13, 2010

Best Friends

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged at 7:33 pm by autismmommytherapist

I helped my son off the bus yesterday as I do most days (although his favorite sitter did it ONCE last week, and now if you asked him he’d say she does it EVERY day). I had to smile at his parting words of “Thank you ladies”, a ritual utterance whether the bus driver and aide are female or not (we’re working on gender identification). It usually takes some time for us to meander up the drive to the house, as every puddle, leaf, or possible nasty piece of garbage must be explored, but today my little boy decided to hussle. “I’m hungry, mommy, and I fell.” Clearly, in three-year-old world, these two events are understandably intertwined.

I admit, if my firstborn had shared these thoughts with me, or I should rephrase, had been able to share these thoughts with me, I probably would have scooped him up in a football hold, vaulted our verile hedge of delphiniums, and made a mad dash for our neighbor’s house (I live next door to a paramedic, I am never moving). I know that if the fall had been bad his teacher would have called, and most likely there will be a note about the incident in his backpack. My instincts prove to be correct.

His teacher, a gentle, lovely soul, wrote a short quip describing the incident, and despite the fact that I have identified a tiny bump on the back of his head, I feel compelled to smile. Apparently Zach has a friend (a “real” friend, as Justin-ghost is so yesterday), and in their zeal to say goodbye to one another after a tough day of singing nursery rhymes, sharing, and at least in my son’s case, deeming potty training as devil worship, they hugged one another and promptly fell to the floor. A brief crying interlude ensued for both parties, and I can imagine how fun that was for my poor son’s teacher and her two aides, as they desperately attempted to corral ten special needs kids to their appropriate vehicles at the end of the school day. Sure, they’re overpaid.

I called Zach over to the kitchen table and offered him his favorite lunch, ham and golden raisins, the latter of which will mostly be scarfed down by his mother. I asked him what happened in school, and he replied “I hugged my friend Carl, I fell down”, and shoved a fistful of meat in his mouth. I don’t know what elaborate details I was anticipating, but obviously the incident was pretty straightforward. They’re three, standing up they’re about as stable as our economy, and they took a tumble. End of story.

I admit, I’m thrilled to hear the word “friend” exit my son’s mouth and know that he’s referring to an entity with an actual pulse. It’s always been a source of great sorrow to me that my oldest son does not have any friends, although his cousins by blood and of the heart are good to him at family parties. The children in our neighborhood are also unfailingly kind to him, due I’m certain to the fact that their parents actually require them to be decent to others, a rule I find shockingly endearing these days. I know he has his “buddies” at school too, a crew of fifth grade girls and boys who engage with him in his classroom and attempt to include him in their play at recess, and I’m grateful for it. On some level I am certain Justin enjoys the attention as I’ve watched him seek it out, but I also know on no level does it resemble any friendship I’ve enjoyed over the years, and that disheartens me.

I’ve been fortunate with my female relationships throughout my life, and although there has been the inevitable falling by the wayside of a few major players over the decades, I have consistently counted wonderful woman companionship as a staple. When I was younger, my requirements for “best friends” usually included a burdgeoning knowledge of what shade of nail polish looked best on me, a penchant for shopping, and a desire to listen to and reciprocate with every detail of our intensely important collective love lives. Today, my requirements run to more upscale retail venues, the ability to tell me honestly but kindly that it’s been three years and I can’t blame that extra weight on my last child anymore, and an intense need to listen and respond to my latest crazy husband anecdote.

Nothing much has changed.

I have high hopes that this particular child will enjoy the benefits of a good friendship, the give and take of conversation, the sacrifice of sharing a treasured toy for the pleasure of another, the ability to forgive if something goes awry. At the very least I’m trying to foster this type of relationship with his older brother, and I believe I’ve at least gotten both boys to the point where they like each other. Zach often asks Justin to play with him, which compels me to figure out on the fly how I can integrate my oldest into whatever activity has caught Zach’s interest, and so far I’ve been able to satisfy him. I can tell that Justin at least likes his little brother, although the clues are subtle, and easily missed by someone who hasn’t been forced to don the mantle of mind-reader over the last seven years.

Justin won’t initiate play with Zach, but he does let him partake in the wonders of his portable DVD player (with gentle shoves if his sibling’s proximity is questionable).  He patiently permits his younger brother to continuously pour water on him at bathtime because, of course, “Justin is dirty”. I can tell, on some level, there is connection for both boys, but as yet I have been unable to discern how deep it truly goes. I’m not certain, at least on Justin’s part, that I’ll ever truly know.

As I cease my musings and mentally return to the landscape of my permanently cluttered kitchen table (and the multiple demands of “juice” that seem to accompany any meal with a small child), I ponder the concept of best friends, and wonder if Zach knows what that means, what it truly entails. I decide to ask him who holds that place of honor in his life, assuming it will be “huggy Carl” from school, Mater from “Cars” who has deposed Thomas the Train in importance, or perhaps just Pat, his favorite sitter with whom he has several times asked to live. Since she’s more fun than both his elderly parents combined, I’m usually not even annoyed by the request.

So I wait until he’s swallowed his ham and taken a final swig of juice, and just for kicks I ask him, “Zach, who’s your best friend?”

He pauses and looks up at me from his incredibly compelling sticker book, annoyed at being interrupted. He then regards me with an air of slight disbelief at my stupidity, and says “Justin is my best friend.”

Justin-ghost zero, corporeal Justin one. Mommy, very, very happy, for as long as it lasts.



  1. Nels said,

    Another great one Kim. Good for you and your boys.

  2. LZ said,

    They can stop your heart with the simplest of thoughts, can’t they?

  3. jeanne said,

    I didn’t lose the last of my second baby weight until my “baby” was almost 4. Therefore you have at least 6 more months.

    • Thank goodness. You can let me know how I’m doing next month, although it’s less “baby weight” than “baby bootie”, “baby thighs” and “baby paunch”.

  4. misifusa said,

    May that happiness last a lifetime Mommy! What a precious moment and precious story ~ thanks for sharing! xo

  5. Kathy M said,

    Well, friends are simply the people who love you You are rich in friends, Kim! And so are both of your boys.

  6. Jennifer said,

    Wait…Thomas has been displaced by Mater!!???

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