"And the answer is: I think he does, but it doesn't bother him. Bud loves being Bud. He feels great about himself. And he is one of the happiest people I know.
"Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes my toaster brain gets in the way and starts thinking that it's important to be like everybody else. So, sometimes I worry about him. But let me tell you a story.
"One day, not too long ago, Bud was watching Teletubbies – because, remember, things that are familiar to him are more comfortable than things that are new to him, so he still loves the things he loved when he was little. I started wondering if he knew that most kids his age don’t watch Teletubbies.
“So, I said to him 'You really like Teletubbies, don’t you, Bud?' and he answered 'Yes!'
“Then I asked him, 'Do other kids at school like Teletubbies?' He laughed out loud and looked at me like I was crazy, and said 'Nooooo!'
"So, I asked him, 'What do the other kids at school like?'
"And he said: 'They like me.'"
I looked around at their faces, some of them smiling, others deep in thought.
"I think that was Bud's way of reminding me that he doesn't need to be like everybody else. That was his way of saying, 'I'm doing just fine, Mom - just the way I am. So please - Back. Off.'"
The class erupted in laughter - its tone a blend of pride and admiration.
Bud the underdog.
Bud the rebel.
Bud the 'tween hero.
"So, you see?" I said. "It's just like I told you before - you already ARE good friends to Bud, just by sticking with him and letting him know that who he is, is just fine with you."
Noelle raised her hand, with a far-away look in her eyes.
"I was just wondering," she said. "Do you think Bud knows he's different?"
"I think he does," I answered, "but I don't think it bothers him." Then, silently, I added, And thanks for making that point so beautifully, Noelle. We are all a little different - just each in our own way.
Tomorrow: Question #10 - How can I help?