Monday, January 21, 2008

Peas and Carrots

On Saturday, Wolf had a friend come over to go swimming and sledding. This was the second time J. had visited our home.
With the combination of Wolf's ADD and mild Asperger's, finding, much less keeping friends has been a difficult endeavor. Not able to "read" people, as most of us are conditioned to do, Wolf does not easily converse in the traditional way. The boy will talk a mile a minute, but only about what he is interested in, missing the social cues and skills of everyday conversation. Thus, friendships usually are of short duration and frought with misunderstanding and conflict.
He has made great strides, however, in the last six months or so, with the help of a dedicated medical, school, and church "circle of caring". While social skills are still our number one problem, especially now that Wolf is on the brink of the great precipice called adolescence; when how one acts, looks, and impresses others is not simply something, it is EVERYTHING.
A few weeks ago, a mother who belongs to my book club at church mentioned that her twelve-year-old son was very lonely. She homeschools her three boys, and her oldest did not have many friends either, and appeared to enjoy the same things as Wolf. I could sense the answer to my many times prayed prayer for Wolf to have a friend closer to his own age, and asked if perhaps the boys could get together some day.
J. came over one afternoon and immediately we mothers could see the truly wonderful balance that allows them to be friends. Wolf is gregarious, silly, and often impulsive, but generally good-hearted and active. J. is calm, level-headed, and willing to play just about any game; he also loves to be outdoors. Together, one influences the other's most positive attributes, making their friendship like the proverbial peas and carrots. One round, one square, but both worthy vegetables. They played games, went sledding, ate cookies, amused Bear downstairs, and generally hung out like kids are supposed to do.
Other parents of children with similar issues agree that the worst part of the disability is watching other kids torment, tease, and isolate our kids. The frustrated tears we shed for our children due to one thing or another in the daily struggle with ADD or Asperger's is exasperated when the friendship issue appears again. We want to prepare the friend, their parents, the world, but know we can't, we can only encourage, remind, practice the skills we work on every single day. "I go to LCHS, where do you go to school?" "What movies do you like?" "Would you like to come over next weekend?" "What would YOU like to do today?"
J. stayed all day, ate Chinese food with us, and at church yesterday his parents asked if Wolf could go roller skating with them the next weekend. My eyes filled with tears as J.'s mom told me he thinks Wolf is "funny and great."
I don't think anyone has ever said that about him before. We'll take that as a moment of joy.

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