A wonderful shortlived friendship T made was a reminder about kindness and being present.
I often think about friendships, because I’ve read it’s often a challenge for individuals with an invisible disability, such as FASD.
It was one of the hardest parts of the pandemic, knowing T was isolated at home and missing out on valuable interaction with kids his age.
About 6 weeks ago, we began our nightly routine to hang out in the playground after dinner.
It was when we met the boy, let’s call him T2, and his grandmother.
Immediately, T and T2 hit it off.
They were the same age. Both the only child. T was taller but T2 was faster and gave T a run for his money playing chase and race.
While they played, I chatted with his grandma, who was taking care of him during the week, because his parents were working; T2 lived over an hour outside the city.
She sounded like she enjoyed virtual schooling as much as I did!
The grandma and I worked together to ensure we all left the park at 7:45. When one kid had to leave, the other would follow too. No whining.
Every night, after dinner, T would be motivated to leave the house so he could play with T2.
When we got to the park, the grandma was usually sitting on the bench, while T2 was playing. When he spotted T coming, he would run quickly towards him.
It was around this time that T got motivated to give monkey bars a real try. Looking back, I think T2 may have influenced him.
As T made his way across, the grandma and T2 would cheer him on. We all cheered him.
T2 was good at learning to swing by himself, using the proper kicking motion. So he and the grandma were trying to teach T how to do it too.
About two weeks into getting to know each other, T had his massive meltdown at the playground.
But as I wrote in my previous post, this did not stop the grandma from letting T2 play with T nor did it deter T2 from wanting to play with T.
That was one of those moments that made my heart swell from the kindness of others and from the acceptance children possess in their hearts.
About a week or so later, there was a dad in the park flying a kite with his two children, who were a few years older than our two Ts.
T and T2 saw the kite in the air and immediately stopped what they were doing in the playground and charged into the field to chase after the kite.
They were both so excited that they bumped right into each other and fell to the ground. They quickly got up and ran again. I could’ve just died from how adorable the moment was.
The next evening, as we were walking home together – they lived on a nearby street across the street from ours – T2 did not stop on the street to wait for his grandma to cross as usual.
Instead, him and T ran together down our street towards our home.
Apparently, as T told me later, he invited T2 to come into our home but T2 rightfully said no. I told his grandma the next day what a big deal this was for T to make this gesture.
As the school year neared its end, I felt excited on one hand that the hell of virtual schooling was going to be a memory soon – but on the other hand, I felt sad knowing T’s time with T2 was coming to a close.
I am a pragmatic person and know it’s not realistic to expect these two to keep in touch with a big geographic distance between us – and also knowing T2 and T’s respective summer plans.
But I didn’t let that sad feeling get to me. Instead, I chose to enjoy the moments T and T2 had left.
During one of the last evenings, T waited for T2 at the top of the slide and they both then went down together, T2’s legs wrapped straddled around T’s waist from behind. They laughed loudly as they slid down together.
They did this a few times before we told them it was 7:45 and time to head home for bed.
I asked the grandma if I could take a photo of them going down the slide and she kindly agreed.
I’m not sharing the photo, but I’m thankful I have captured this wonderful moment in time to share with T.
I am optimistic there will be more T2s in T’s future. Sure, his challenges can get in his way at times during social situations, but I have faith in him… and in the goodness of others.
For now, day camps are open again and it is wonderful that T is with his peers again – building new memories, learning social skills, and getting to be a kid amongst kids again!