The Friendship Jungle
March 26, 2010
Noah's friendship with the little boy next door continues. Though it's only been two weeks and I'd already have to describe it as "rocky."
On the other hand, the confidence boost was almost immediate -- Noah excitedly goes outside in search of Other Kids, and is bitterly disappointed when they don't magically appear. One day a couple of (much older) kids rode by on their bikes and Noah greeted them with boundless, innocent joy: "Are you here to play with me?" They (very kindly) admitted that they were not before pedaling off, leaving Noah behind and his little heart melting all over the sidewalk.
"They didn't want to play with me," he said quietly. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I felt my chest clench, but I felt weirdly prepared for this moment. Like I'd been expecting it, ever since Noah marched up and knocked on our neighbor's door. Kids are mean little bitches. Even when they don't mean to be. So I calmly explained (over and over) that those kids were just so much older and were allowed to go different places and probably already had somewhere to go or maybe it was just time for them to go home and eat dinner. Eventually I just suggested he come back inside for a cookie.
(Jason would later ask, as we drove through the neighborhood on our way out for dinner, if a certain group of kids we passed were the kids in question. "Who should I run over?" he asked, only kind of jokingly. Look at me! Being the reasonable, appropriate one! I hereby win at both scraped-up knees and hurt feelings.)
I was less prepared for the next day.
The little neighbor boy (let's call him Sammy) (who is six) came over after school and knocked on our door. Noah was delighted, and I was too, more than a little bit. Sammy's mother asked if I could keep an eye on him while she picked up her husband from work, so Ezra and I headed outside to play in the general (but non-helicoptering) vicinity.
The boys were playing so nicely I let Ezra wander a bit, up and down a path that runs behind our house. We bumped into another young family whom I have been stalking for a good year now in pleasant (but so far mostly one-sided) attempts at friendship. We chatted and chased our toddlers around and I finally got a stab of GUILT GUILT GUILT SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD HAS NOT BEEN IN MY LINE OF SIGHT FOR 10 MINUTES NOW AND THIS IS HOW YOU END UP ON THE NEWS, ASSHOLE.
We headed back and I saw Noah standing by our front door. Sammy was sitting in front of a stone wall on our corner, peering around before hiding completely. Hide and seek! I thought. I wonder if Noah is playing the right way or the Noah Way.
"What's up, Bud?" I asked him. "Whatcha playing?"
He opened his mouth and a telltale string of utterly indecipherable nonsense fell out. She there no inside play scooter friend tomorrow, or something similar. A sure sign that he was upset or confused or overwhelmed.
I sighed, guessing that Sammy's inevitable rejection of his younger, kind of oddball playmate had come, and pulled on my Armor of Being Reasonable and Suppressing the Urge to Give Another Child What-For.
But when I approached Sammy I realized that he was crying.
And not just crying. CRYING. Tears, bloodshot eyes, snot. He'd been crying for awhile.
I panicked briefly before remembering that I could, you know, TALK to this kid and possibly get real answers.
"Noah hurt my feelings," he said. "Noah said he didn't want to play with me. And that he wasn't my friend anymore."
I opened my mouth and tried to reel in my own string of indecipherable nonsense in the wake of my shock. Here I'd been crouched and ready for Noah's hurt feelings, but was COMPLETELY unprepared to hear that it was my child who had just casually broken the heart of another.
I called Noah over and tried to get him to look at Sammy and tell me how he thought he was feeling, and if he had said anything that would make him feel that way and Noah seemed entirely baffled but dutifully apologized, with words and sign language.
"Okay!" Sammy said brightly. He wiped his face and jumped up and they took off down the block on their scooters as if nothing had happened.
Oh. Right. Kids. Resilient little buggers.
A few minutes later, after eavesdropping a bit, I figured out what had most likely happened: Noah wanted to play inside. WITH Sammy. While he'd managed to correctly convey this invitation once before, he was having trouble today and was resorting to more canned phrases and responses than usual. He didn't want to play outside on scooters anymore but jumbled the message, swapping "you" for "outside." When Sammy got upset, Noah pulled out a response that matched Sammy's mood: "You're not my friend anymore." (He often says this when he's upset, regardless of the context. He's even said it to his toothbrush a couple times.)
Noah tried again, though, and did better the second time. The boys were still playing inside when Sammy's mother came to get him. I figured I better explain what happened in case it later got worse in the retelling. Injuries or Major Tears seemed worthy of a full report.
"Why did Noah say that?" she asked. I caved and gave her the nutshell description of...you know, ALL OF IT.
"I really don't think he meant it," I said. "He's so happy to have Sammy as a friend. He just has trouble sometimes getting the right words out."
And...well. Guess who else went to speech therapy. And early intervention. And gets occupational therapy for fine motor skills at school.
I wanted to hug her, but we just smiled at each other while Noah and Sammy hugged their goodbyes instead.
"I'll play with you next year, okay?" Noah said.
Sammy looked at me and smiled. "I think he means tomorrow. So I'll come back then."
Oh, how SWEET is that??
Posted by: Jessie | March 26, 2010 at 02:01 PM
This just made me so teary, and so happy for Noah. Happy for Noah and Sammy. And you!
(P.S. Hi! Lurker delurking here.)
Posted by: Jen | March 26, 2010 at 02:01 PM
Aww. Love it! (Also: That movie looks exceptionally cool. Will it be weird if I go to it without kids in tow?)
Posted by: Natalie | March 26, 2010 at 02:02 PM
what a beautiful story.
Posted by: mia | March 26, 2010 at 02:02 PM
I so get this. I was the sort of kid who got her feelings hurt ALL THE TIME and I've spent so much time innoculating my kid against getting hurt (or being the mean kid).
Looks like Noah picked the right friend. Good call, N.
Posted by: Stacy | March 26, 2010 at 02:02 PM
AM GETTING TEARY. I'm so glad Noah found his friend, they sound like the perfect team :)
Posted by: Ashley | March 26, 2010 at 02:02 PM
This post makes me smile.
Posted by: Jill | March 26, 2010 at 02:04 PM
Ok, I'm sitting at my desk bawling because seriously, what an amazing kid.
Posted by: Bethany | March 26, 2010 at 02:04 PM
I SWEAR TO GOD WOMAN, EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! I come here I end up crying. My heart bursts for Noah and your family.
Posted by: samantha Jo Campen | March 26, 2010 at 02:04 PM
I will remember the first time I realized my child had been unkind to another FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
I was so not prepared for it, but in the end they were kids, mended the fences in minutes and all was well. (It took mama a bit more time to recover)
Posted by: Loralee | March 26, 2010 at 02:04 PM
OMG, you've found a kindred EI mom! And Noah has a freind who gets what's up with the speech stuff! That is exciting! Despite the tears and drama it's good to know that they've been there too! And again hooray for Noah having a freind! And hooray for Sammmy getting Noah! And i'm getting verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves... :)
Posted by: Brandi | March 26, 2010 at 02:05 PM
Yay!! And I'm crying. Love these stories.
Posted by: Lisa V | March 26, 2010 at 02:06 PM
Oh the crying at my desk. Thank you for sharing Noah with us. I am so, so glad that he has found a friend who can meet him where he is.
Posted by: Aell | March 26, 2010 at 02:06 PM
Oh gosh, what a lovely little story.
Posted by: Hillary | March 26, 2010 at 02:08 PM
that is an absolutely wonderful story
Posted by: corrina | March 26, 2010 at 02:10 PM
Aww - YAY For awesome friends! Don't you wish it was that easy for us adults?
Posted by: Domesticated Gal | March 26, 2010 at 02:10 PM
I completely teared up at this. I'm so excited for you to get to talk to the other mom more! Go Noah!!!!
Posted by: Chris | March 26, 2010 at 02:11 PM
Learning so much about the interactions between kids. Thank you! So great to know you have a neighbor who gets it!
Posted by: Stephanie | March 26, 2010 at 02:11 PM
De-lurking! I just love your kids and they're so damn cute and fun and i don't even LIKE KIDS but my heart clenches up when things go better for them. hooray!
Posted by: Casie | March 26, 2010 at 02:11 PM
So special! I love hearing about Noah's little triumphs!
Posted by: Deidre | March 26, 2010 at 02:12 PM
oh SWEET! Those neighbors are kinda perfect.
(i clicked. because you said we were pretty and i really needed that today. will click more now.)
Posted by: HolyMama! | March 26, 2010 at 02:12 PM
exactly what Jen said. Yeah for Noah and Yeah for you. and also damn you for making me teary in the DCA Admirals Club!
Posted by: kate | March 26, 2010 at 02:14 PM
How awesome that they found each other.
Posted by: Cara | March 26, 2010 at 02:15 PM
I don't know when the last time I commented was. It have been forever, but I'm shedding tears of joy sitting at my desk this afternoon. This making friends things is difficult even without the "ALL OF IT" background. My "normal" 6 year old is struggling in our new neighborhood figuring out how and when to approach new kids and when is it appropriate to knock on doors. His desperation is definitely cringe worthy at times.
Posted by: EmJay | March 26, 2010 at 02:16 PM
Feel-good post of the month, no doubt. So glad for Noah [& you!] making a friend, & Jason for not running over any children. Everyone wins!
Posted by: Amber | March 26, 2010 at 02:20 PM
Oh, what a great story! I'm so happy for Noah.
Posted by: Kristin H | March 26, 2010 at 02:22 PM
Am totally, completely, entirely verklempt.
Posted by: liz | March 26, 2010 at 02:22 PM
Crying a little. At work. Damn.
Posted by: Kathleen | March 26, 2010 at 02:25 PM
Posted by: Marcy | March 26, 2010 at 02:31 PM
Wow...just awesome. I posted on the special needs blog about a woman who accused me and other moms (of kids with mild disabilities) of seeking a diagnosis to make ourselves feel better. She contends that kids on the mild end of the spectrum don't need services.
This post shows those little things that can be HUGE things if we don't help our kiddos now with early intervention and necessary supports.
You put so beautifully what I have been trying to explain to her. Bravo to you for this post and BRAVO to Noah for being the awesome friend he is. Great job on calling him over to "see" the emotion he caused in Sammy. Great visual lesson! I use social stories all of the time to help Drew understand that. Google "free social stories" and you can find one about being a good friend. It might help him process it a little after the fact. We did a spring break one yesterday and 'click' he understood why there isn't any school next week.
Posted by: Karen | March 26, 2010 at 02:31 PM
Aaaaaand... cue the ugly crying at my desk.
Way to go, Noah! And Sammy!
Posted by: Missy Carvin | March 26, 2010 at 02:34 PM
Awww! I'm all teary eyed now. I'm so glad Noah has found a friend. :-)
Posted by: Michelle | March 26, 2010 at 02:37 PM
I want to reach through my computer screen and hug Sammy.
*Joins the club of the people crying at work*
Posted by: Brooke | March 26, 2010 at 02:38 PM
This is a great story! Noah and Sammy seem to be two very sweet little boys. At the beginning of the story when I read about how the older kids on bicycles said they didn't want to play, it made me think that maybe you should hire a mother's helper (11 or 12 year old kid) to play with Noah every once in awhile... but by the end of the story I was convinced that Noah is on his way to having a best friend.
Posted by: Lisa | March 26, 2010 at 02:41 PM
That made me teary. It's amazing, the people that can come into our lives when we least expect it, and most need it.
I clicked on mamapop for you. I usually do anyways, but I made sure to today.
Posted by: Kristin | March 26, 2010 at 02:50 PM
I'm just crying. That is awesome. Friend for Noah, support and understanding for you. Just awesome.
I have a slightly awkward child and the days when someone just gets him make me break down -- and the days when someone gets me, I tend to want to hold on tight.
Enjoy both the new friendships you have.
Posted by: Patricia | March 26, 2010 at 02:52 PM
Wrong mood to be reading this. Sniffle Sob Aw Beautiful!
Posted by: Hairy Farmer Family | March 26, 2010 at 02:57 PM
Crying, over here. You tell these stories so well.
Posted by: Niki | March 26, 2010 at 02:57 PM
[Applause] This is an awesome revelation about the neighbors today! What a relief to have his first neighborhood friend be from a similarly experienced family. Here's to finding a great friend Noah!
Posted by: MS | March 26, 2010 at 02:58 PM
oh man...tearing up over here! So, so, so sweet.
Posted by: Melissa | March 26, 2010 at 03:01 PM
A quick glance at the other comments makes me happy I'm not the only one all teary over here.
What a sweet story! And oh how fortunate that the little boy next door is so sweet and understanding - in more ways than one.
How wonderful for Noah, for all of you.
Posted by: Life of a Doctor's Wife | March 26, 2010 at 03:01 PM
I love the Continuing Adventures of The Amalah Clan.
Posted by: Cincy | March 26, 2010 at 03:02 PM
Loved this! Totally just teared up.
Posted by: Mary | March 26, 2010 at 03:08 PM
This post really affected me - I love how things have a way of working out in unexpected ways. Also cheering for you and Noah with each step :)
Posted by: Serena | March 26, 2010 at 03:17 PM
ugh, word salad! Sorry I hope that's not offensive, that's what James Spader called it on Boston Legal. His was anxiety induced.
I'm so glad they're friends!
Posted by: Beth | March 26, 2010 at 03:21 PM
Add me to the teary-eyed group. My goodness, this was a sweet story and I'm so glad it had a happy ending. Yay Noah and Sammy!
Posted by: ms martyr | March 26, 2010 at 03:22 PM
When you have a child who is different from other kids you can get hyper sensitive about all kinds of things. I spent the first 10 years of my son's life with my heart in my throat - friendship issues were the worst.
I am so glad you and your neighbor have "found" each other, this will be huge for you both. Shay is now 16 and I deal with other things but I have a very good friend who has a 5 year old child who is deeply on the spectrum - she tells me all the time how much it means to have someone to talk to who understands how lovely her little boy is. I'm so happy you and Sammy's mom connected.
Posted by: Lucy's mom | March 26, 2010 at 03:25 PM
omg, got warm and fuzzies at the end.
yay for Noah and Sammy. wish adults could be this transparent sometimes.
Posted by: jen | March 26, 2010 at 03:25 PM
Oh, that last line *really* tugged at my heart strings!
Posted by: Shauna (Fido & Wino) | March 26, 2010 at 03:26 PM
Wow. You handled that perfectly! I would probably be getting misty too, if it weren't for the testosterone poisoning.
Posted by: beta dad | March 26, 2010 at 03:28 PM
This post makes me sigh and warm and fuzzy and YAY!
p.s. I clicked like ten times on your mamapop link
Posted by: Sara | March 26, 2010 at 03:29 PM
My heart just grew three sizes.
Posted by: Aunt Becky | March 26, 2010 at 03:30 PM
Awesome story! Wish you could post pictures! Though I understand the whole waiver-needed-to-post-somebody-else's-child-all-over-the-internets thing. But good for Noah! He's doing SO well!
Posted by: Liz | March 26, 2010 at 03:31 PM
And now I have Major Tears. Okay, maybe not Major, but tears nonetheless. How wonderful!
Posted by: LD's Mom | March 26, 2010 at 03:33 PM
That makes my heart melt.
Posted by: Michelle | March 26, 2010 at 03:39 PM
Posted by: agirlandaboy | March 26, 2010 at 03:40 PM
Congratulations to Noah for making such strides in his social skills. We all hit snags once in a while. All of us- even grownups! He's learning now that's how life is and his school and training have definitely made a big difference in helping him get to this point. Good for him! I'm glad he's got a pal who 'gets' him. I wish I could find one for my son!
Posted by: Gina | March 26, 2010 at 03:41 PM
LOVED this. One of those where you don't realize how much you are smiling till you see your reflection in the screen...thanks!
Posted by: annabelle | March 26, 2010 at 03:41 PM
love love love this post! The story is so touching and your telling of it is even better!
Posted by: serror | March 26, 2010 at 03:44 PM
Dude, stop making me cry at work.
Posted by: Belly Girl | March 26, 2010 at 03:51 PM
Posted by: lisa marie | March 26, 2010 at 03:58 PM
I'm amazed at how many times I've said something about Scooter going to OT or having trouble with the pragmatics of speech to discover that the other parent knows about what we're going through. It's part of what has made me resolved to be more open.
Posted by: Mouse | March 26, 2010 at 03:59 PM
AGAIN with the tears. Quit that.
Posted by: Jennifer B | March 26, 2010 at 04:02 PM
Oh, the pain of little kids who don't understand that big kids don't always want to play with them! My 4-year-old is famous for just running up to a bigger kid and asking "would you like to be my friend?" I always feel for her and for the big kid, who neither wants to hurt her feelings nor actually play with a preschooler.
Posted by: ras | March 26, 2010 at 04:05 PM
Now MY heart is melting all over the sidewalk.
Posted by: Starbuck | March 26, 2010 at 04:09 PM
I'm so happy for you and Noah. It is magical to make a friend, especially a friend who lives in the neighborhood. Hooray!
And every friendship goes through the whole "You're not my friend thing." I get (oh, trust me, I get) that it's different for Noah and for kids like my Jack, but even typical kids go through this exact same thing. I have dealt with this exact. same. fight. with my own kids more times than I care to count.
Hooray for friends!
Posted by: Stimey | March 26, 2010 at 04:14 PM
I love this story. Can I move to your neighborhood? I want my little guy to play with Noah and Sammy, he'd fit right in. Although, just so you know, I am never the reasonable one. Which is sad, because I used to be a teacher and thought I understood this stuff.
Posted by: Jerseygirl89 | March 26, 2010 at 04:15 PM
Augh. So sweet. The friend stuff is going to tear me up when my daughter is old enough. It can be so heartbreaking. But Sammy and Noah seem to be figuring it out.
Posted by: chiquita | March 26, 2010 at 04:18 PM
That is awesome. Teary eyed smile awesome.
Posted by: ksmaybe | March 26, 2010 at 04:19 PM
OMG! It's like God hand-picked the perfect little playmate for Noah. AND the perfect we've-been-there-before Mommy-friend for you. What a blessing! :)
Posted by: Lindsay | March 26, 2010 at 04:19 PM
This is a great story and I'm glad I'm not the only one that got teary reading it. My 10 week old was diagnosed with Albinism (no pigment in the hair, eyes & skin) and has white hair and pink-looking eyes. I worry about if it will be hard for him to make friends b/c he doesn't look like a "normal" kid and will have some kind of vision impairment but stories like these give me hope! Thanks!
Posted by: Dawn | March 26, 2010 at 04:22 PM
Oh, the mercy in small blessings. Love this story.
Posted by: Jamie | March 26, 2010 at 04:45 PM
Okay, hi. TOTAL mom-crush on Sammy AND Noah. :)
Posted by: Melissa C | March 26, 2010 at 04:58 PM
From what I've seen in your comments section, I'm one of your less, ah, lachrymose readers.. but this one almost got me. That was really touching- on its own merits, I'm sure, but also because of your skill in rendering it. Thank you for sharing this.
Posted by: -k- | March 26, 2010 at 05:38 PM
So awesome. Love it.
Posted by: Lisa | March 26, 2010 at 05:45 PM
Isn't it cool how the right people just fall into our lives sometimes? Also? CRYYYYYYYYYY.
Posted by: Jen L. | March 26, 2010 at 06:18 PM
Isn't it cool how the right people just fall into our lives sometimes? Also? CRYYYYYYYYYY.
Posted by: Jen L. | March 26, 2010 at 06:18 PM
Score another one for Noah. Fate has dealt you a good hand today...for having this family move next door. Huzzah!
Posted by: Devon | March 26, 2010 at 06:21 PM
Mai hart an mah yooterus has asploded. Teh awesum... iss ebbyware. :D (Seriously. TOTALLY awesome! :) I'm reaaaaaaally tired and therefore typing in Cheezburger sounded like a good idea.:))
Posted by: Maxine Dangerous | March 26, 2010 at 06:35 PM
Yay for happy new friends!
Posted by: Sarah | March 26, 2010 at 06:48 PM
I think we <3 Sammy now.
Posted by: Heather | March 26, 2010 at 07:11 PM
I don't even have kids and that made me cry. What a wonderful story.
Posted by: Samantha | March 26, 2010 at 07:12 PM
aw, that's very sweet. my friend is having a baby soon and it got me thinking - if i had a kid i might be jealous of him, cause he gets to be a kid!! yay! but then this post reminds me that it's not always easy being a kid.
Posted by: angela | March 26, 2010 at 07:24 PM
That was incredibly sweet. I was really rooting for their friendship.
Posted by: Lemon Gloria | March 26, 2010 at 07:26 PM
Boys are awesome that way! Something happens, they fight, get upset, get over it and go back to playing.. girls on the other hand, just be thankful. :)
Posted by: mamao | March 26, 2010 at 07:37 PM
So many of your stories make me teary. You know, in the good way. Thanks.
Posted by: Michelle Baum | March 26, 2010 at 08:12 PM
Aw! The last two lines gave me tearz. What a great neighbor kid to have!
Posted by: Ameya | March 26, 2010 at 09:13 PM
Instant support system! How awesome!
Posted by: bethany actually | March 26, 2010 at 09:26 PM
Oh, I am crying. I love Noah and I love Sammy and I love this story!
So, I know that you aren't sure how you feel about Jesus and stuff nowadays (or atleast I think you have expressed that before), but man... the evidence of something/somebody guiding this life of yours and your family is pretty unbelievable. You are so very blessed and I love reading about it :)
Posted by: Rebecca | March 26, 2010 at 09:29 PM
This is just... *sigh* so beautiful. Awesome.
Posted by: Jen | March 26, 2010 at 09:34 PM
OH GOD, it is so nice to have a buddy.
Posted by: chatty cricket | March 26, 2010 at 09:42 PM
Hooray for Noah... friends are hard for everyone.
Even without Noah's particular challenges, I'm always holding my breath that Fisher never hurts or is hurt by another. Yet, I know it will happen. And it has.
That scooter is so cute I feel the need to go get my kid one.
Posted by: Jeanne | March 26, 2010 at 09:59 PM
You made me tear up at work. He looks and acts so grown up now, it just amazes me. I'm so happy he found just the right neighborhood friend.
Posted by: Amelia Sprout | March 26, 2010 at 10:11 PM
I was so not expecting that ending. Happy sniffles, for you and Noah and Sammy.
Posted by: Julie @ The Mom Slant | March 26, 2010 at 10:40 PM
This is love, man. We find people who recognize our crimped bits.
Posted by: pandechion | March 26, 2010 at 10:42 PM
Awwww. That last line made me cry.
Posted by: Lise | March 26, 2010 at 10:44 PM
Oooch. That story punched me in the gut. How heartbreaking and wonderful. That reads like a screenplay... sigh
Posted by: Mrs. Q. | March 26, 2010 at 11:36 PM
Posted by: Aimee | March 26, 2010 at 11:36 PM
I've been lurking here for some time, a friend of mine told me about this blog one night when I was once again crying on her shoulder about my 4yr old son. Reading your blog is so theraputic for me, YOU GET IT! Someone else gets what we go through!
I so get how this friendship is such a big thing for Noah, and probably Sammy too.
Thank you so much for sharing your family, and especially Noah's life with us.
Posted by: Sheryl | March 27, 2010 at 12:08 AM
AAAGH heart twisty happy sad so thrilled for Noah!!!
Posted by: Katie | March 27, 2010 at 12:16 AM