Friendship is a turning point in Jeffrey's young life.
By Donna Lowich
"Do you want to come to my house?" Stephen's mother asked Jeffrey, age four.
Jeffrey's first response was the same as it had been all the other times she had asked. He had always shaken his head, no.
It's not that he didn't want to go. He really liked Stephen who was almost a whole year older and very popular in their nursery school class.
So,it didn't surprise Stephen's mother when Jeffrey turned her down once again. "Well, OK, then. You can decide when you'd like to come over; when you're ready."
She turned to leave the building with Stephen, and started towards the door. She took a few steps when she heard a couple of running steps on the linoleum floor and then felt a couple of gentle tugs on the hem of her dress. She turned, facing little Jeffrey once again. He looked up at her, not saying anything.
"Oh-h-h, Jeffrey," she bent down to be close to him. "Would you like to come and play with Stephen today?"
Jeffrey's large, dark brown eyes glistened with tears as he nodded his head. Yes!
"Yay! Hooray!" yelled Stephen. "C'mon, Jeff, we're gonna have fun today!"
Jeffrey smiled and the two boys walked together to the car. Jeffrey was happy that he was finally going to go to Stephen's house, although there was something still bothering him.
His Mom, you see, was ill in the hospital, and he was not sure what was happening. He had so many questions, and he understood so few of the answers. This caused him to be shy and a little uncertain about new situations.
Once they got to Stephen's house, Stephen suggested they change into swim trunks so they could run through the sprinkler. He gave Jeffrey a swimsuit to put on, and walked him to the bathroom. He closed the door to give him some privacy, but stuck his foot in the door to let Jeffrey know that he was still there, in case Jeffrey needed him.
Stephen's kind, thoughtful gesture gave Jeffrey the confidence to return to Stephen's house many times during Jeffrey's mom's illness. And, it taught him to believe in himself and in others. All these years later, Jeffrey still passes along that kindness and gentleness to others.
I know for sure, for I am Jeffrey's Mom.