Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin. (Proverbs 18:24 NRSV)
Didn’t summer just start last week or the week before? Yet there they are. Ads in the paper for back-to-school supplies. My Facebook feed is full of friends caught up in back-to-school preparations. Friends who are teachers are posting pics as they fit in one more vacation before the new school year.
As a special needs parent, back-to-school comes with an oddly mixed sensation of anxiety and hope. I am always hopeful for a new year and new possibilities. It’s the “what if” gremlins that make me anxious. With a little experience I finally figured out the first day of school routine. I pray my son out the door with a positive, “God’s got you, so you’ve got this!” and keep the anxiety part to myself as I sit by the phone and wait for the call from the school office. Autism and the first day of school. The call was inevitable at my house. I learned just to go with it.
My biggest prayer for my son each year is to make one friend. Just one. One good friend will see you through anything. Barnabas traveled with Paul on long and dangerous journeys to share the gospel. Moses had Aaron on his journey to and from Egypt. David had Jonathan through battles and political intrigue. Of course my dreams were more sedate. I simply prayed for a person to sit with my son in the cafeteria and maybe hangout to build Lego castles and help save the world in the latest video saga.
Looking back over the years that prayer has been answered each year. Some of those kids my son connected with in elementary school are still friends after high school. Some are neuro-typical. Others are not. In the long run those differences matter little between real friends. The truth is that sometimes friendships bloom out of the most unlikely connections if well-nurtured, though I did give Craig one piece of advice that really helped. Look for the kid who is by himself at lunch and go join him. I bet he would like to have just one friend too.
Check back tomorrow for my post with practical strategies for helping our kids make friends.
Prayer: Loving God, Watch over our children as they look for friends. Create pathways for connections where they feel loved and accepted. Amen.
Photo: “Calahan Colorado High School Cafeteria” by David Shankbone