The second Ryan and I arrived at the playground yesterday, he walked right up to a boy around his own age and, excitedly, said “Hi Raul!” I’ve never met Raul, but Ryan often refers to Raul and Mariah as his friends on the school bus.
The boy kind of stared through Ryan and kept playing. I introduced myself to his mom, who was juggling two younger children. She asked me if Ryan had autism; I agreed that he did. She said she is a nurse and works with people with special needs. I started to ask what class Raul was in, but at that moment she had to chase a two-year-old.
Ryan asked Raul if he wanted to go on the tire swing with him; the boy shook his head and kept pumping his own swing.
When Raul’s family was heading for the parking lot, Ryan launched into a “No, don’t go!” The mom said she could give the kids five more minutes. I said, “They’re not even playing together.” She smiled and said, “But in his head, they are.”
She totally gets it.
The boys ran off playing tag, and then hide and seek. Really playing, really enjoying each other’s company.
I chatted for a while with the mom, and started asking about Raul.
“Brian,” she said.
It turns out, this boy was not Ryan’s bus-mate Raul at all.
His name is Brian.
He goes to a different school.
They had never met before.
“Well, you made a new friend!” the mom said.
I kind of love not-Raul’s mom.