Jude rummages in his pocket. He carefully lines up the rocks on my desk.
"So, who did you play with?" I ask.
"No-one," he answers. "I don't have any friends."
"Really, Jude? Why not?"
"Some kids said my coloring was stupid. But in my head I said my coloring was good. I took a lot of time to do it, Mommy!"
"May I see your drawing?" I ask.
He dashes to his backpack and retrieves the paper. It's a picture of several animals sitting on a dock, fishing. He has neatly colored within the lines. He has cut along the squiggly fishing lines precisely.
"This is so neat and tidy!" I tell him. I display it on the fridge, proudly. Inside, my heart is aching. Who wouldn't want to be friends with my gentle, quiet boy?
"Can I stay home with you and my twins tomorrow?" he says.
I hug him and explain (for the fifth time) that he's a big boy now and has to go to school. He nods, quietly.
I won't coddle him. As much as I want to draw him into me and gosh-darnit-- FORCE kids to be his friends--I won't. He has to learn. On his own. He will grow stronger because of the struggle. I will let patience have her perfect work (James 1:4).
Some days he will bring home pocketfuls of rocks. One day he'll bring home a friend.