August 24, 2010

Freckles, Tiny, & Bullet

Bailey, Emma, Hayden & Jarrett
with their amphibian friends

This past weekend Hayden caught three toads. He and the neighbor girls named them Freckles, Tiny, and Bullet. I sat on the driveway and observed the kids play with their new amphibian friends. They even held toad races by lining them up and seeing which one reached the sidewalk first. This seems like a typical thing kids may do, but for me it meant so much more.

Toad races, with Hayden in the lead
One of the things I used to worry about when Hayden was younger, in addition to his health, was whether or not he would have friends as he grew up. Not just acquaintances, those are easy to find. But real, true friends. The kind of friend that will look past the huge scar on his neck or his inability to ride a bike. A friend that will accept that his speech is severely delayed and who will learn to interpret Hayden's version of English. I used to pray that someday he would find a friend who would accept him and show him what it meant to have a friendship.

We moved into our house in the Spring of 2006. I remember looking out the back patio door and seeing two young girls playing on a swingset in the next yard. They appeared to be about Hayden's age. I wondered if they'd ever be interested in playing with Hayden- or would his play be too slow-paced for them?

A few days later the girls' mom introduced herself and girls to me in the front yard. We discussed our children's ages. The younger girl, Emma, was one year younger than Hayden and the older girl, Baily, was one year older than him. To my surprise the girls actually wanted to play with Hayden! They asked about his scar once, I told them what it was from, and then they went back to playing. They accepted him for who he was.

Over the past four and a half years Hayden and the girls have grown exceptionally close. They exchange May Day baskets, birthday presents, and Christmas gifts. Bailey tends to push Hayden to be brave and do things he may not have otherwise done (ride a two-wheeled scooter) and Emma is more gentle and calm, talking him into coming in the house with me when it's bedtime, or reminding him to stay back from the street. 

Often times when we pull into our driveway the girls will run out of the house screaming "HAYDEN!!!! Wanna play?!" It's like they can't get enough of him. And for some reason I'm still surprised when this happens. I'm so used to other children staring at him (adults too), pointing at him, wondering what's "wrong" with him. It's such a relief to trust that these two girls truly want to be with Hayden and enjoy spending time with him. Sometimes they'll even beg to come to our yard or Hayden will whine until we let him go to their yard.

This is why watching them Friday with their new toad friends meant more to me than it would to some mothers. I can't take for granted that my dream for him has come true. These girls have taught him more about friendship and acceptance than I ever could. He has picked up so many social cues from them that no amount of behavioral therapy could teach. I will be thankful for the friendship they have shown him everyday for the rest of my life.


  1. Man you do a super job of keeping your blog updated. I have not done anything with mine since July 4th. Does that make me a bad mom??? Love reading about the boys. Hayden has some true friends that live next door.

  2. What a great story! The girls are lucky to have a friend like Hayden and the three of them have a special bond. I am sure they will always keep in touch no matter where we live.