A Letter to My Sons' Neurotypical Friends
Please don't ever change.
At lunch time you ask to sit with Sam and you bring your joke books from home because you know he'll laugh even when he doesn't get the punchline.
You play chase with Noah on the playground even though he's the only one being chased and you always have to be "it".
During science and social studies, you applaud Sam when he raises his hands and answers one of the teachers questions. When he does the same for you, you don't get embarrassed and tell your friends you wish he'd stop.
You don't mind that Noah's idea of playing is asking for "tickles" and "squeezes."
When you see Sam in the hallway you put your hand up for a high-five and you really want him to give you one.
You ask questions about my sons that are simple and direct and yet kind. Better yet, you really want to know the answers.
When Sam perserveates on the subject of musical instruments or breaks out in a beat-box routine, you join right in and don't mind that what you wanted to talk about never gets mentioned.
I hope you know how much your friendships mean to Sam and Noah. Even though they can't express their gratitude in words, their devotion to you is evident in their actions. I watch them scan the lunchroom and playground for you. When you play together, their personalities truly shine and I get a better look at who they are and who they will be as they grow up.
Fact is, you have no idea how much they will need your friendship in the coming years.
Right now being friends is easy. Getting along and playing well together is part of growing up. What you may not realize is that as you enter middle and high school, friendships become both stronger and harder to maintain.
Today the quirkiness you see in my boys is funny and it makes you laugh with them as you tell jokes, have tickle fights, and beat-box during recess. But, in a few short years what was once okay may suddenly shift into something that has others around you laughing at them and you will have a very important choice to make.
You will have to choose to stand by my sons and embrace their unique differences or bow to the social pressures around you and shun them for it.
I hope that when that day comes you remember the fun you had with Sam during the school dances in elementary school. How when you told a joke he was the first one to laugh and ask you to tell him another.
I hope you remember how cool it was when Noah sought you out on the playground and you chased him to and fro for so long that you both had to lay down on the cool grass and watch the wind blow through the trees to catch your breath.
I pray you have the compassion and the wherewithal to stand up for those who are so easily swept aside. I hope you recognize those who have a tendency to bully others and that you make it your personal goal to ensure my sons are never victimized by them.
I cannot promise you that Sam and Noah's interests will mature in sync with your own. I can't predict if their favorite movie will always be Madagascar or if they will be teenagers still blowing bubbles and beat-boxing to Yo Gabba Gabba tunes.
What I can promise you is that you will always be their favorite. When they enter high school and they're surrounded by new faces from different schools, yours will be the one they seek out and find comfort in having with them.
When the time comes for school dances and football games your choice to include them within your circle of friends shows compassion and a level of maturity others will always be drawn towards, not against.
Please think long and hard about what it means to be kind. Strive to think for yourself and not be influenced by others with promises of popularity and grandeur. Choose to do the right thing. Especially when someone's feelings are at stake.
In closing, I want to say "Thank you" to each and every one of you that have befriended Sam and Noah this year. I thank you for the laughs I have heard from Sam as he repeated the jokes you told him at lunch. I thank you for the giggles I heard from Noah in the lunchroom as you tickled him on his hands.
I thank you most of all for not seeing what makes them different but for what you share in common.
A mother of two special sons.
Sunday E. Stilwell
Adventures In Extreme Parenthood