Rhema and her precious friend Syd often have play dates on Sundays. When I ask Rhema what she wants to do with her friend, her answer is almost always “talk.” She treasures it, after all the years of silence, the gift of conversation. And she genuinely enjoys getting to know her friend better.
On this particular day, she typed:
i want to talk with syd about girl stuff.
And with those simple words I remembered once again that my soon to be thirteen-year-old girl is my soon to be thirteen-year-old girl. Her days don’t look very much like those of other girls her age, but she shares many of the same interests, hopes and dreams.
Syd was totally up for talking about girl stuff. She sat at the table and did some coloring before Rhema broke off all the tips of a new set of markers.
I held Rhema’s iPad and she slowly typed, “hi syd”.
“Rhema,” I said, “I’m going to try to be invisible and just hold your iPad. What would you like to ask Syd?”
What happened next was one of the most vulnerable, beautiful conversations I have ever heard. I learned new things about my daughter that only make me love and respect her more. And Syd is a rare gem. She is genuine, patient and kind. She never seems put off by Rhema’s challenges, differences or seemingly odd behavior at times. She sees past all that and, as Rhema says, sees her. Syd dares to find ways to connect, and she sincerely enjoys their time together.
The conversation below may read fast, but it took an hour. Rhema is very slow at typing and it takes so much concentration and focus to complete a sentence. In between typing/pointing she nervously slapped her leg or licked her fingers or ripped paper. But she persevered. Because she loves, loves talking with her friend.
Rhema: Syd, what is your favorite thing to do on weekends
Syd: Go to church, go to youth group, spend time with you, relax, sing and bake. What is your favorite thing to do on weekends?
Rhema: I love to have playdates with you and sleep in
Rhema: What do you like most about me?
Syd: You’re kind and sweet and welcoming. And a very good friend.
Rhema: I like that you are so kind and loving and you see the real me
Rhema: My name means spoken word. My name is a promise that God will speak
Syd: That’s cool. My parents just liked my name. Do you have a favorite movie?
Rhema: No. I don’t like them because they require too much concentration
Rhema: How do you feel about boys?
Syd: Sometimes they can be really annoying. Sometimes they can be really nice. How do you feel about boys?
Rhema: I think they are cute and I hope to get a boyfriend one day.
Rhema: Someone once said I was too loud in church. Do you think so? Am I too loud?
Syd: No. Not at all.
Rhema: I want to know how I can pray for you
Syd: My mom’s cousin has cancer. And I hope that the snowstorm will not be too dangerous. And I hope our friendship goes on forever. How can I pray for you?
Rhema: I want to go to more school where I can be challenged and have friends.
Rhema: Thank you for talking to me today. I love you.
(Rhema and Syd’s conversation was shared with permission.)