“Mommy, I’m getting nervous.” That was my son, Gabriel. We were the only ones in the car. Daddy was at work, and siblings were just dropped off at the grandparents’ house. We were on our way to a boys’ birthday party, running late from getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I assured him that I would stay with him at the party. We rang the doorbell, but the house was quiet. As I guessed, everyone had gathered in the backyard. The boys, all around 6 to 7 years old, were running around playing with toy guns. Gabriel stuck with me, like a fly on a wall.
He became interested in a bag of army men toys and began to set up his soldiers on the patio table. A couple of the boys joined him, and I quickly whispered in his ear, “It’s ok if they move things around. They just want to play with the soldiers too.” Thankfully, he wasn’t rattled by this “interruption” to his little solitary game. And, this gave me a bit of time to chat with the other mothers, who stayed at the party.
However, it wasn’t long before Gabriel was tugging on my shirt, asking me to play with him. So, I played with him. We set up the army men for battle. Then, I showed him how to hit the birdie with the badminton racquet. Then, we tried out the croquet set. And all along, my heart ached for my son, fighting back tears as I tried to savor the moment with him, while attempting to ignore how heart-broken I was that he couldn’t be around other boys his age. I gently tried to encourage him, “Why don’t you join those boys over there, playing catch?” Hardly looking away from those little soldiers, he said, “They look kinda busy.” I certainly didn’t want to force him and give him bad memories of this birthday party.
Gabriel is of the age when boys begin forming friendships and when they want a boys-only party or even sleepovers, but Gabriel just doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone … not right now. Maybe he’ll always be the quirky kid. That’s ok. I’ve had my share of feeling different, so has my husband. But I sense that Gabriel is becoming more aware of it though, as he expresses his anxiety of being left alone without us by his side. So, birthday parties is a rare thing for my son, unless it is for someone in the family. Don’t get me wrong. He absolutely loves birthday parties! And he enjoyed the one we went to, especially the pie-eating contest and the water balloon toss. But he enjoyed it alone, though he was surrounded by boys, who were equally excited.
Of course, I would want a friend for Gabriel, someone who would reach out to him without any coaxing, who simply likes Gabriel for who he is. I pray that God would bring someone like that for my son. But more than that, I desire that he finds his best friend in Jesus Christ. He is the friend who will be there at every birthday party, who will gladly reach out to him, who will love him unconditionally, who will never be too busy for him, and who will never leave him nor forsake him.
(Photo credit: Kapungo)