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A Friend Of One's Own

When Maddie turned a year old, I began
searching in earnest for friends for her. She had built-in friends
with my own friends; we’d all begun having children around
the same time, and Maddie had three or four children only a year or
so older than her. But I also started trolling the park, eventually
finding Maddie the first big love of her life – Naomi. They
bonded, and were BFFs until we left New York for Texas.

Once we hit Texas, I was blessed enough to fall into a mom’s
group in our neighborhood with children all roughly Maddie’s
age. She was on the youngest end of the scale, but she’s
always been happiest that way, and she’s had playmates within
walking distance ever since. Preschool has simply widened
Maddie’s circle, and she’s entering kindergarten with a
good half dozen great friends under her belt, going in with her.

And then there’s Cora.

Poor kid – she was only eight months
old when we moved, and so didn’t have any good friends to
leave behind. And then my friends here weren’t having
playmates for my younger child, so she’s always been friends
with Maddie’s friends. It’s not ever been an issue, but
I can see that it will be in the near future, for a couple of

First and foremost, Maddie and all her friends will be going to
school in September. All day. Every day. Even Maddie’s
friends from preschool will be gone, so when Cora talks about
“her” friend Jonathan, that kid’s going to be in
kindergarten too. And since Cora’s refusing to go to
preschool herself, that’s going to leave her with five days a
week with no friends.

But logistics aside, it’s just starting to get complicated.
Maddie and her friends play faster, more complicated games than
Cora can quite keep up with, and while Maddie’s friends are
by and large gentle and patient and good-humored, I know
there’s a limit. When Cora and Maddie go over to a
friend’s house while I teach, Maddie and her friend will
generally do their own thing. Cora will weave in and out of the big
girls’ game, most often going her own way and playing
contentedly by herself or starting her own game. Because Cora is
three and developmentally, this is what three-year-olds do,
there’s not a problem. Most three-year-olds are all about
parallel play, with somewhat limited interaction. So the bigger
girls aren’t feeling pestered yet, and Cora’s not
feeling excluded. Yet.

It’s going to happen, though. Maddie’s got a huge heart
and is becoming increasingly solicitous and kinds towards Cora, but
even she’s got limits. Sometimes at night she asks me when
she can have a play date by herself, and it breaks my heart because
I can’t blame her but can’t always give her what she
wants either.

The solution, of course, is for Cora to develop friends her own
age. And before I go further, I have to say that she’s got
her friend Ahna, who’s only a few months younger than Cora
and who loves being with Cora. But first off, Ahna’s gone all
summer, and second, Ahna’s in preschool twice a week. And
she’s not within walking distance. But those problems aside,
Ahna’s Cora’s best friend.

We joined a new church a few months ago and have begun making
friends there, and I’ve met a few people with children right
around Cora’s age. I keep hoping Cora will take to a couple
of them and start her own posse. Cora doesn’t get much
one-on-one time with them, though, because the Sunday school thing
is still off-and-on. And with Cora’s current attitude of
“I don’t need anything in the world except
Mommy”, I can see I’m going to have to push her towards
friends her own age. Hard.

I keep hoping she’ll change her mind about preschool this
fall, but so far no luck for the Mommy-love reason listed above. So
right now we’re stuck in this loop of being content with
Mommy, and with Maddie’s friends.

We’re coasting for the summer, but fall’s coming, and
I’ve got a younger sister who’s going to be bereft
without her big sissy, and all big sissy’s friends.

Three-year-old playdate, anyone?


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