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SWF Seeks Same

If I had the guts, here’s an ad
I’d be placing in the local paper this week:

“Single white female seeks female of any ethnicity for good
times. I like play dates, swinging, cooking up yummy treats, and
going for long walks. YOU must love to laugh and sing, and at least
tolerate Elmo. If we hit it off, age is not an issue.”

No, it’s not for me –
it’s for Maddie. She’s starting to really pine for her
friends, and we’re having a hard time finding kids here for
her to play with. When we lie in bed at night for prayer time,
Maddie mentions all her friends from New York and how much she
likes them. When she talks about going out to do fun things, she
reminisces over fun times she had with Naomi or Elisabeth. My girl
is a social creature, and it breaks my heart that I can’t
provide what she really needs – a friend. For whatever
reason, we’re having difficulty finding kids her age to meet.

As we approached the usually deserted park yesterday, I spied two
moms with three – count them, three! – girls roughly
Maddie’s age. I felt a spring in my step that hadn’t
been there a minute earlier, and as I watched the women chat
intensely, I thought, maybe today is the day! But as we drew near
the park, the girls were hustled off the equipment and herded
towards waiting cars. I found myself almost sprinting the last bit,
hoping they’d see the newcomers and change their minds about
leaving, but the other children were strapped into car seats and
whisked away by the time we hit the swings. I was disappointed
myself, but I saw Maddie’s face fall when she realized we
were too late; she’d strained towards the playground as soon
as she’d seen them, saying, “I bet they’d like to
play with me!”

After half an hour on the equipment, I was getting ready to give
Maddie a countdown for heading home when another family showed up
– not one, but two girls! With a three-year-old and a
five-year-old now on the grounds, I couldn’t make Madeleine
leave before she got a fair shot at making friends.

The new girls were polite but uninterested in playing with
Madeleine, though it wasn’t for a lack of interest on
Maddie’s part. “I think Sophia would like to go down
the slide with me,” Maddie would say, looking at the
three-year-old. “Well, you can ask her, honey, but she may
not want to slide right now,” I’d say gently, dreading
a rejection.

“Hey, Sophia, do you want to go down the slide with
me?” Maddie said in a quieter-than-normal voice, which I knew
was from feeling unsure. Sophia looked at my daughter but continued
walking past her on her own way to a different game.

If this had happened once, it would have been hard enough to watch,
but I had to sit through Maddie make overture after overture to
these girls, only to be politely rejected each time. It’s not
that the girls didn’t like Maddie or were cruelly shutting
her out; they were simply uninterested in adding another person to
their play.

Maddie does great at playing on her own for long stretches of time,
but there’s a joy she finds in interacting with other people
and she can’t imagine a type of person who wouldn’t
want to play with her if they had a chance. I see her put herself
out there, making herself vulnerable over and over again, and wish
I could somehow shield her from it. She hasn’t yet learned to
take rejection personally, for which I am deeply thankful, but I do
see her a little more down, a little more lonely after each try.
Can other kids smell her naked need? Does it make them nervous?

I know there’s a point – somewhere around the top of
elementary school – when trying too hard gets you thrown to
the bottom of the social heap, when desperation is unattractive and
makes kids run from you like skittish colts. Will this be my
daughter? I don’t think so; I see her natural self-confidence
and her comfort in her own skin and think (hope) she’ll never
feel the sting of being rejected simply because of wanting to be
included too much. But I know that at some point in this part of
our life as we try to carve out our new niches, the loneliness and
lack of connection will make their marks on her personality, have a
hand in shaping her belief in herself and her comfort in her own

So it looks like I’ll be working a bit more aggressively to
get Maddie plugged in somewhere. I’m not a huge fan of
spending money on classes or lessons just to give my daughter a
social situation in which to interact, but that seems to be where
we’re heading. I’ll be checking out our community
playdate group, looking into movement classes, and anything else I
can think of to give my girl that social interaction she craves.

I’m not quite to the point of putting an ad in the paper, but
almost. Cool as I am, I know she needs more. Wish me luck on
finding it.


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