Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pool party

We had such a wonderful afternoon today! We had our long-awaited home-school co-op pool party today, and boy, was it worth waiting for! We postponed it a couple times, due to weather and illness, but today was perfect. Although not all of the families could attend, the four that were there had a great time. Four moms, 13 kids, bright sun and pleasant temps, a big in-ground pool, picnic foods, pool toys, lots of laughter and shouting and splashing - it was fantastic. I know my kids will sleep well tonight!

I was especially encouraged to see how the kids looked out for each other. They've gotten to know each other well over the past year. There was remarkably little friction between them all. When our son had some difficulty participating in the dodge-ball game the rest of the older kids wanted to play, they were so understanding and helpful. His Asperger's makes team sport activities difficult for him, and initially he refused to have anything to do with it - he just wanted to swim in the deep end. The pool was big, but not so big that the game could avoid him. Rather than hound him to play, or ask him to sit out while they played, the other kids decided that anyone who hit him with a ball on purpose during the game would have a penalty and have to sit out - they'd just play around him. After a little while of that, our son started helping on the fringes of the game, by returning stray balls to the players. Eventually, he joined in. The kids gave him the time, understanding, and grace to work into their activity. The moms didn't need to intervene at all; we just spectated, and marveled at how much growth and compassion the kids showed on their own.

The oldest boy there was the 15 year old son of the mom hosting the party. He was amazing with our son. They just took to each other, and he seemed to know just how to encourage him, even though they had never met before (he goes to public school). William just has a gift for interacting with kids with special needs, according to his mother, and after seeing him in action, I believe it. Our son could have stayed in the pool all afternoon with him - they were the last ones out.

I am so proud of our son's friends! And, I'm proud of him that he trusted them enough to join in their fun when he gave them a chance, and figured out the dynamics and where he could fit in. I can't tell you how much these "little things" mean to me as the mother of a child with special needs. It's "just" a game, "just" a kids' activity, "just" a pool party - but for our son, it's HUGE to have such patient, understanding friends, and to participate in a group activity that several years ago would have most likely ended with him in a meltdown and tears. Kudos to the parents of those kids, and especially to the moms who've become my friends over the past year. Good job, and God bless you all!