Los Angeles, CA

I’m Dreading When My Son's Rich Friends Sleep Over at Our Tiny Apartment

Elle Silver

My son has autism, which makes it very challenging for him to have friends. It was tragic for me to watch him during his early years at school. Other kids would say “hello” to him and he'd just ignore them. Or in response to their “hello,” he'd point out the color of their backpack. "Your backpack is blue." The other kid would shrug as if to say, "Why are you saying that? I just said hello to you." My son wouldn’t say hello back and the other child would walk away.

Then came the even more heartbreaking incidents when I would see him say “hello” to other children but they'd just ignore him. He just didn’t know how to interact with his peers. But he also desperately wanted a friend, and would often tell me about it.

The pandemic happened and then suddenly not only was he failing at remote school, but he had even less social interaction with his peers. He became very depressed. As such, you can imagine how overjoyed I was when we were approved for financial aid so he could attend a private school that specializes in neurodivergent children.

Not only did he start doing better in school but he actually has friends now. He has a group of five buddies. They are all on the spectrum. But because the school costs almost $50,000 a year to attend, most of these kids come from extremely wealthy families.

Some of his friends are starting to sleep over at each other‘s houses. I would love for my son to invite his friends to sleep over. I would love for him to simply have a playdate at our place, but I'm dreading this.

I don’t want to get in the way of his friendships when it’s been so difficult for him to have a social life. But the fact is, I’m not quite sure how to invite these kids, who come from incredibly wealthy families, over to our apartment.

We live in a very urban part of Los Angeles. A homeless person sleeps outside our complex at night. There is construction nearby. It’s constantly loud here. There is an auto-body shop on the other side of my complex.

It’s fine when you get inside my apartment but it’s still tiny. The complex is old, not fancy at all. It suits my two sons and me, but I can’t imagine inviting these incredibly wealthy people over.

One of my son's friends lives in a mansion in one of the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I’m dreading him asking one of his friends to sleep over at our place but I also can’t let my own insecurities get in the way of my son having friends.

I fear that the parents will look down on me. Maybe they’ll think we’re inferior to them. Maybe they’ll even think that it’s unsafe for their child to sleep over here.

My son doesn’t even have his own bedroom. He shares a bedroom with his brother but because there’s a lot of sibling rivalry between them, my son now sleeps in the living room. I have a mattress that I put on top of the couch and make up his bed there each evening. What will his friend, who surely has his own bedroom, think about this?

And what is he going to say to his parents about it? What are they going to think about us? Will they still want their child to be friends with my son? You can see how insecure I am about this.

I’m just going to have to allow myself to be vulnerable to being judged by these people. I can’t let my own insecurities get in the way of my son's friendships. I would like to hide where we live from these people but I can't if my son is to have friends.

I’m going to have to work on how I see myself. I shouldn’t feel so insecure, but I do. I’m just going to have to accept that we live in this apartment. These kids and their parents can think what they want. If they're true friends, they won't care.

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I write about dating, marriage, divorce, family, society, and the city I live in: Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, CA

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