When I rounded the corner on my walk to school to pick up the kids, I saw L sitting next to his best friend B. When they saw me approach, both boys came running up. “Can B come over to play today? Please!!” L asked.
“Sure, we need to ask B’s mom or dad first though,” I replied.
B quickly interjected: “We already did—He said 'Yes.' He’s over there.”
And off all three boys went, running down the sidewalk to our house. My youngest son, Z, tried unsuccessfully to be a part of their pack. Although he plays well with older kids, it’s not the same with L and B.
L is on the Autism Spectrum and his friend also has some speech delays. The two of them speak their own language and live in a world together, and it’s hard for other kids to be a part of it. It brings tears to my eyes to see the two of them together.
For so long L didn’t have friends. He would often be the kid left out when we would go to the neighborhood playgrounds. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be a part of the group; it was because he didn’t understand how to be a part of the group. I often would stand on the sidelines and try and help him navigate the playground politics: “L, that little boy threw the ball at you because he wants you to play catch with him.”
B has been a gift from the universe for my son. He’s the friend my son needed to cross over into the nuerotypical world. This year they are in the same class, and B has pushed him to be a part of classroom projects and activities that L would normally avoid, or they would cause him to have a meltdown. As long as B is next to him, he’s willing to try new things and interact with other children.
While walking home from school, Z grabbed my hand. “Mommy what are they doing?” he asked.
L and B were doing some sort of hand gesture and making strange noises and then running off, stopping and starting the whole routine all over again.
I approached B and asked what they were doing. “We are riding pretend motorcycles.” he replied.
“Oh!” The hand gestures were making total sense now. “What color is your motorcycle?”
“Green. Its always green cause green is me and L’s favorite color.”
I smiled and wondered to myself if green really is in fact B’s favorite color. Maybe he was allowing L to choose the color because he takes his favorite color green very seriously.
I caught up to L and asked him what color his motorcycle was. “Mom they are invisible motorcycles—they can’t be a color because they are invisible!”
Broom…broom, and off they went riding their invisible motorcycles. The rest of their play date continued in this way. I listened to them talk, counting to myself how many times the conversation exchanged from one child to the other.
Seven! Seven times L and B exchanged a question and answer and stayed on the same subject. Having a back-and-forth conversation has been one of L’s Individualized Education Plan goals for the last three years.
My youngest son caught me doing a celebratory dance in the hallway, “Mommy, what are you doing?”
“Nothing, sweetie.” I swooped him up and pretended we were Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Today is a really good day!