Having school friends around for tea or going to their house is not a regular occurrence for us. Joseph has never had those kind of relationships and when I ask if we wants to invite someone he politely says "No, thank you".
Admittedly when he first started school and I became aware of children going to each other's houses, I was bothered about it. I didn't see any point in inviting someone though as I was certain Joseph wouldn't play. He was likely to be his usual aloof self, take himself off and play with his iPad and I would be left holding the fort. Over time, it's something I accepted as part of the autism and that Joseph wasn't bothered about it so why should I be?
Last year in Relationships, I spoke about his first after school play date where I wasn't needed to stay. I had always been worried that if I didn't, how would the parent know how to communicate with Joseph? How would he behave? But we took the first step and it appeared to go well. I'd always said that we would have to do a return invite but for some reason it never happened until this week.
His friend is someone Joseph mentions almost every day when I go through my series of questions; who did you play with at school? who did you sit with at lunchtime? I am certain that it's not always her but he provides her name regardless.
I wanted our other children there in case Joseph did just wander off and play his iPad but I needn't have worried as he himself tried to involve her in his world and she happily went along. Without any direction from myself, he was showing her videos on his iPad and singing You're the Voice at the top of his own voice. He must have mentioned her name at least thirty times whilst she was here, talking
to at her. We walked to the park together and at this point he announced to me he was going to kiss her. She giggled and I did tell him that he shouldn't just kiss people without asking them first. She told me it was ok as he never asked at school. And whilst we all smiled, it worried me that Joseph doesn't understand the social rules of friendship. He then announced to her "Can I give you a kiss?" It was more of a statement than a question.
She told me how they share good news in their class and when it was her turn this week, she told her classmates how she was going to Joseph's house for tea. How can you not smile at that? It wasn't just good news in my eyes, it was good news in hers too. She told me that she'd asked him every day this week "Am I coming to your house for tea Joseph?" He'd told her every day "No, thank you", until the day when he had told her "Yes please". Us women like to grind blokes down this way but I knew he was comfortable with it.
I asked him if he'd had a good time and whether he'd like her to come again. He said "Yes, she can come on Saturday".
Friendship is not always about long conversations, having a kick about with a football or comparing JoJo Bows. Friendship in the rawest form is honesty, kindness and the unspoken word.
We have that.
photo credit:the author