Being friends with Hope Hoffman has taught my daughter, Naomi, patience, inclusion and anonymity. Patience when all of their classmates run out of the room for recess and Naomi hangs back to help Hope with her boots or shoes. Inclusion to the point that Naomi automatically says, “let’s play ‘this’ game ‘this way’ so Hope can do it too!” Anonymity when Hope gives Naomi the nod and they both walk down to the nurse’s station together. Forever trusting, understanding, unconditional friends!
Naomi doesn’t think of Hope as having a disability. She thinks of Hope as her very best friend! A friend that she can do anything and go anywhere with. Hope thinks of Naomi as her closest friend. Someone she can say anything to, tease, play with and trust wholeheartedly. They play, debate, and relate like sisters. They share a few friends and have some separate friends too. They are great role models to their peers. They’ve even banded together to turn in bullies! Their relationship is more genuine than those of some adults I know.
As a parent I have tried to teach my children to focus on the opportunity instead of the deficits–to look for the successes and accomplishments in people. I can tell that Naomi wants to be part of Hope’s future successes. In turn, Hope gets equally excited when Naomi reaches another level in reading or wins a ball game. Their support of each other’s activities is also amazing. Naomi plays basketball and softball. Hope is learning piano, plays the drums, and plays chess. But these differing interests bring them closer together when they share the same hobbies like swimming, singing, art and drama. If they did everything together they would get bored with each other and possibly grow apart. There are times when each of them is jealous of what the other can do better, but they find a way to learn from each other instead of letting it bother them for long. “Friends help friends,” Naomi said the other day.
In a world where people pass judgment on a daily basis, their friendship perseveres through adversity and remains unconditional!