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The older Maddie gets, the more she begins to interact with kids her own age. When we first started hitting the playground and having play dates, she was around a year old and didn’t really play with other kids; she’d play next to other children or watch them interestedly like they were on television or something.

dsc04835.jpgBut now that Maddie has been hanging around with her playground pal Naomi for six months, there’s a definite relationship forming, and I think Maddie’s officially got her first BFF –

Best Friends Forever.

Last week a series of necessary errands, inclement weather, and runny noses conspired to keep Madeleine and Naomi from hanging out together for pretty much the whole week. I expected Maddie to notice the absence a bit, but was truly surprised at how much she missed her friend. If we were at the playground by ourselves, she’d wander around and occasionally say “Omee!” – her version of Naomi.

On a couple of occasions, Naomi’s mom (my friend) Ingrid would stop by my place to drop off or pick something up, and Naomi was invariably in tow. Whether she was at the foot of the stairs strapped into her stroller or the curb of the street strapped into her car seat, Naomi would spy Maddie through our glass front door.

“Mad-DEE!” Naomi would cry.

Maddie would pound on the glass. “OMEE!” she would implore.

I swear, the two of them were the Capulets and the Montagues, the way they’d carry on with their hand-wringing and shouted pledges of friendship. And every time Naomi would be steered away, she’d break into sobs. Forlornly, Maddie would wave bye-bye wanly from the door.

And when they do get to hang out together, they each have to do or eat whatever the other one is. Ingrid and I have ended up sharing snack duty, alternating days when we’ll bring enough for both girls, because whatever Naomi was eating was what Maddie wanted and my child would end up simply begging out of Ingrid’s bag. When snack time hits, wherever Maddie’s sitting is where Naomi wants to sit, and if one of them discovers a fun place to play the other one has to get there as soon as possible.

Of course everything isn’t perfect in this relationship; the whole “give and take” aspect – also known as “sharing” to a toddler – hasn’t really set in completely. There will be at least once every play date when Maddie will dissolve in tears because Naomi is riding her bouncy horse – never mind that Maddie herself wasn’t riding it at the time. And there’s always the moment when Naomi scoops up every toy in the room and refuses to let any of them go; that’s another scenario guaranteed to not end well.

But on the whole, these two toddlers are learning from each other and enjoying a friend’s company, and even those “Mine! Mine!” instances are informing how Maddie handles future relationships. So for now, we’ll continue to encourage this Mutual Admiration Society. Because the best part of this whole deal?

They wear each other out much more effectively than a mommy can.


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