My older daughter never had play dates unless it was for her sister (or me). Birthday parties were family and family friends. Only once did we get one from school and that was from her school bestie in the special education room with her. It was wonderful to be there, but it saddens me that she never really had friends.
I was reminded of this as my youngest came home with a birthday party invitation. Every day she asks “when do we go there? We are going to the party, right?” While I say, of course, and I’m grateful for the friends she has made at her new school. At the same time I’m wondering how her sister will feel at home while we go to a party without her. Trust me, I know she will enjoy her time. She’ll probably be watching movies on her Kindle, throwing things at the fireplace or rearranging.
And I wonder if her sister has friends at school. I know she enjoys lunch with classmates daily. The kids volunteer to eat lunch with her in her classroom. And her teacher writes that sometimes Nyssa gets silly or just enjoys her peers. That sounds like her. She loves laughing especially if there is physical comedy involved.
But I wasn’t sure that was friendship. Until I opened a large mannila envelope from her third grade teacher today. I didn’t think twice. As a special needs parent I get IEPs, test results, and the like. I know her new staff is testing new communication devices with her and expected some kind of paperwork to fill out.
I sobbed at the sight of child-like drawings and the sweet spelling of these words. One friend drew some of their favorite things: biking (even though she can’t bike yet), McDonald’s, dressing up, swimming, and the swings.
In fact, most of them mentioned the swings, the place she loves the most when she’s outside.
Friendship means love and laughter. It means kindness and the ability to love someone for their strengths and their weaknesses. My girl might not tell me about her day. Or all about her friends at school. She might not tell me who she was playing with on the playground or who she had lunch with, but she has friends.
And for that I am grateful.