I am the mother of an only child. Well, technically Coop has two older brothers, but they are significantly older and do not live with us. So he is being raised as an only child. He has no built-in playmates, and even if he did have siblings, there are no guarantees they would get along I suppose. In any event, I am often trying to find kids for him to play with on the weekends. It’s usually means kids he is in school with, or from the neighborhood but we have not met many of them in his age group yet.
The main problem with being in charge of finding the friend to play with is it means being friends with the parent or parents. So far I have liked the moms I have met. But this just like dating. You put out a feeler. Are you guys around? Are you interested in _______(fill in the blank with any number of kid activities.) Then wait for a response. If it positive, it feels exactly like when you asked someone out on a date and he/she said yes. If they do not respond, or respond negatively, even when there is a perfectly reasonable reason, you begin to question yourself. Or your kid. What is it, do they not like me, my kid, the way I keep house, or the fact I do not buy organic milk?
You might think I am joking, but this is real. As a mom who has a job outside of the home, full-time as a college administrator, I have not been home during the day for these last 5 years. I know there are play groups who meet during the week, during the day, and moms who don’t work outside of the home have formed friendships and their kids have formed friendships. I find myself in this weird limbo world, where I KNOW there are moms and kids out there, I just cannot find the door into their world. And everyone has their own agenda. There are the ones who focus on all organic, all natural everything, who don’t let their kids watch TV and only play with toys made from sustainable resources. Then there is me, buying milk from Costco, letting my kid watch Spongebob and Ghost Rider and the Avengers and who buys almost every toy that has ever entered our house from Target. But I do compost and recycle like it is my third job. So THERE. I don’t care if someone wants to buy organic free range milk. Go for it. Just don’t judge me for NOT buying it.
And this is the point on the date where someone excuses themselves to go to the bathroom and never comes back.
So I try with the kids at school. And deal with the rejection or the success, of attempting to date these other moms, and get their kids in the bargain. For now. Eventually he will start making friends and plans on his own, and that will likely begin after next week when my kid goes to kindergarten. On a bus. I think I can count on one hand the number of times my child has traveled in a vehicle that was not driven by either me or his father so far in his lifetime. Not that I was against it, the opportunity was just pretty limited. But that is another blog post for another time. Like next week. This week will be filled with me dealing with him transitioning out of the school where he has attended for all but 9 months of his life. Where they have cared for and educated my son in ways I could not even imagine. Coop is ready for the bus to a new phase. I am not. I fully expect to be a blubbering mess on Friday when I pick him up from the Barn for the last time.
But back to making friends – I am sure once Coop starts making friends, both in our neighborhood and out, I am sure he will also start making some social arrangements on his own. I will still be involved obviously, because even though he is tall for his age, he still cannot drive. But it should be less about me reaching out and more about him choosing his friends and making plans. He is a very social kid. We went to an indoor playground this weekend, because bouncy houses do not grow outside in nature (if they did Coop would be all over that) and there were only about 10 kids in the entire place. But he managed to insinuate himself into their play, and even lead it on and off with no assistance from me. (I sat on a chair, looking at FB and instagram trying not to think about the teeming hoards of germs that I would be hosing off my child and myself once we got home. Think ball pit times a quadrillion.) Coop has a natural gregariousness and confidence that other kids are drawn to. In the long run it should serve him well.
In the meantime, who knew there were so many lunch box options in the world. I have been looking at them for weeks. Because my kid will not choose to eat the hot lunch at school until he is probably 12, he will bring his lunch to school. So next time on Cooper Chronicles, the hidden pitfalls of lunch boxes….