Gabriel officially has a new friend. Do you see him? He’s the dark haired boy, with the sparkly blue eyes and the kind heart (trust me, it's there) to the left. Yep. His name is Noah.
It is a little ironic that he shares his name with the famous Noah who saved the animals, two by two, during a rain storm, because in many ways, Gabriel has been in a storm this spring – and needed saving, both physically and emotionally.
Now their relationship has had its challenges, but what relationship hasn't?
The two unlikely buds met in class, Noah is 12 and in the 5th grade, and Gabriel is 9 and in second. Noah quickly felt as though it was his duty to protect Gabriel, being that he was the oldest and Gabriel was the youngest, that seemed natural. Noah has Autism, and this contributed to his desire to be Gabe’s guardian. Not a bad deal to have the biggest kid in class (technically there are only five kids..but still) as your best bud.
And you might think that it isn't a good idea for Gabriel to have an 'older' friend, but really, it is the best thing ever. Gabriel already seems to 'play down' to those around him (given his HFA, he isn't mature, or even developmentally on target socially), and in our neighborhood there are mostly young kids, which doesn't give Gabriel the opportunity to have those kinds of social play skills modeled for him. The opportunity for him to 'look up to' someone is priceless.
When I first met Noah, on the first day of school two months ago, he immediately began asking me questions – pelting me with them really – about how many swear words Gabe had heard, if Gabe swears, and assuring me that he would be happy to cover Gabe’s ears should any of the ‘high schoolers’ use swear words in front of him. I thanked him for his kind offer.
Slowly their friendship grew – Noah would give Gabriel piggy back rides, and they would sit together during activities.
However, this has been a particularly grueling spring for Gabriel. A spring that has taken his normally sweet personality and turned it on its ass making Gabriel short tempered, angry and down right dangerous at times.
Which brings us to their first friendly squabble.
Gabriel was trying to pick up a breath spray, cinnamon, from a fellow classmate, and Noah in his good-natured way tried to take it from Gabriel, convinced it wasn’t breath spray at all, but rather pepper spray – and Noah did NOT want Gabe to get hurt.
When Noah grabbed Gabe’s arm, Gabe hit him. All 5’2 130lbs of him.
So Noah pushed Gabriel. Gently.
And Gabe punched him again. Not gently.
Gabriel, realizing that he could not, should not, and would not, engage in a fist fight with Noah, did the next best thing: Destroyed the classroom.
After Gabriel’s usual round of yelling and screaming, knocking things over, including all of the desks in the classroom (6), and biting deep marks into his arms, he was restrained by one of the male teachers who specializes in behavior management for the school.
Then I got the call.
Which was GREAT! No, really, it was.
You see, the call was to have Gabe tell me what happened. That’s it.
Yep, no one asked me to come and get him, no one expelled him or even suspended him.
Nope, Gabe was forced to stay at school and solve his problem with Noah.
And then clean up his mess.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE this school?!
This provided Gabriel with two very valuable lessons, ones that may have taken years for him to learn had he been attending a different school: Personal Responsibility and Friendship.
First, he had to take responsibility for what he did and make it better.
He also had to talk with Noah, find out what really happened, and how they could avoid it in the future.
And most importantly, he learned that you can have a fight with someone, and still remain friends.
My husband quoted an Eminem song which seems to sum up the friendship lesson really well, “And what's a little fight? Tomorrow you’ll be boys again.”
Noah came and spent a few hours with his mom at our house this last week – and Gabriel was his true self. Acting crazy, crying and not hiding who he is from Noah -- fair to say, he wasn't on best behavior. And Noah loved him for it.
Oh, and Noah brought me flowers. Gerber Daisies that were bright pink. What a great kid.
So, there they are, the two unlikely friends in that photo above, enjoying a short summer break before they both start summer school together on Monday. Noah, openly admitting, that he is only excited about school because Gabriel is going to be there.
Noah even says that Gabe is his best friend. And he is definitely Gabe's best bud.
Photo: Noah and Gabe on a playdate at our house last week -- they even got in the hot tub.