We had a church family picnic after worship this morning at a local park. We had a blast eating together, then a handful of adults and several kids played soccer together (myself included). We brought Freddy, and Sam was so proud and excited to show him off to everyone. When we were leaving, the boys were asking if one of their friends, “D”, could come home with us. D’s parents said yes, so I brought home 4 boys. Alone. Kyle had to head off to youth group, so it was just me and the kids.
Sam likes to have friends over just so they will watch him play Wii, and sometimes play with him too. He was thrilled to have D over to play Wii together, even though D is better friends with Ben than Sam. They all enjoy playing together though. D played Wii with Ben for a bit, and then they spent some time playing outside, then looked for toys to play with, and finally landed on starting to watch a movie, Tin Tin. Ben, D and Josh were sitting happily on the couch eating popcorn watching the movie when Sam came upstairs and sat by D, loudly complaining that he wanted D to come play Wii with him. D said politely that he had already played Wii, and wanted to watch the movie with Ben now. Sam was getting upset, so I pulled him out of the room and talked to him about how we act when we have guests – that we do what they want to do, even if it’s not what we want. He actually took it pretty well, then quietly went back downstairs to continue playing alone.
Then, something wonderful happened. It was nothing Sam did, or didn’t do. It was the sweet spirit of this friend of my kids that moved me. D got up from the couch and started to go to the downstairs door. I asked him where he was going, and he said he was going to play Wii with Sam. I said, “Oh, you don’t want to watch the movie anymore?” “Yes, I do want to keep watching the movie, but Sam really wants me to play Wii with him, so I’m going to do that before I have to leave.”
It was one of the sweetest things I have seen recently. As much as we are training all our sons to prefer each other and show compassion, this was something quite unexpected. Sam and D do not see each other a ton – just on Sundays, and on rare playdate occasions. I know D’s parents have talked to their kids about autism and teaching them how to be kind friends with everyone, but especially with Sam when he is around, but D’s parents were not here. He wasn’t in his own home where there are certain rules and expectations. He would have been perfectly fine to continue watching the movie with his friend, and Sam would have still been okay. But he chose instead without any prompting from me or anyone else to show kindness to his other friend. I heard Sam’s reaction, and he was so happy!!
This might not seem like such a big deal to anyone reading this. It feels huge to me! It gives me hope that even though there are those who will ignore Sam’s requests and write him off as “autistic” or “weird” or “difficult”, there are also those who will be loving and kind and be a friend to my son.
It was this simple gesture of kindness and compassion from this young boy shown toward his friend that is different from him, and younger, and was asking something of him that he did not want to do. Yet, of his own accord, he chose to prefer Samuel anyway because he knew Sam would appreciate it. When D came back upstairs a little while later, I pulled him aside and got down on my knees, looking him in the eyes, and told him how much I appreciated his action in preferring Sam over himself and showing such kindness. I said it means a lot to Sam because he doesn’t always know how to ask kindly for something and has trouble with friends sometimes. He nodded and smiled and said, “I know. We had fun.”
Thanks to these parents for training their son(s) (they have 3 boys, and they are all sweet and loving to Sam) to love and prefer others’ desires and show kindness to those who are different and kind of difficult to be around at times. It is a blessing to this mom’s heart. It is what I pray my own children will be like when I am not around to make sure they follow what I’ve taught them to do. I am very thankful my son has such a friend.