There is something really beautiful about seeing your child develop into a little human, separate and apart from you. As Mary Tyler Son wraps up his first year of pre-school, we roll into a summer of Camp Mom, and nearing Donna’s 8th would be/should be birthday next month, I find myself a little reflective, a lot grateful.
This past year I have watched my boy negotiate and enjoy his first friendships. What a gift. All of me is fascinated by this, part of me is surprised, and part of me already hurts for the inevitable troubles that are a part of friendships that Mary Tyler Son will discover soon enough.
I have these visceral memories of walking my boy into school. On the way to the school doors, we would pass the pre-school playground. It was a good day if some of the other boys spied Mary Tyler Son. They would run, screaming, to the fence, shouting his name, faces full of smiles. My boy would beam when this happened. BEAM. Who wouldn’t, really? On the days the boys were across the playground or too busy to see him, my boy would walk even more quickly, eager to join them.
Two of those boys have become good friends, first friends, really, to my son. And though both boys are older and will be on to kindergarten next year, I have politely informed their parents that they are stuck with us. I want to nourish these friendships, I want to help them grow. I know new friends will be found next year and other friends will come and go through life, but something about watching these first seeds of friendship bloom for my boy makes my heart burst, it is so full.
It could be that Donna never made it to the stage of friendship. She had playmates, sure, but playmates are different than friends. It could be that watching my boy is leading me to recall my own first friendships and makes me wistful. It could be that the addition of friends is another whole circle of influence, expanding Mary Tyler Son’s world past the walls of our home.
Yesterday I picked up the boy from Lego camp — a week sponsored by the local park district that involves a bunch of kids playing with tubs of Legos then running to the nearby playground before running back to the Legos. Unstructured and the boy is loving it. It is a perfect and cheap summer distraction. He is in the camp because of one of his school friends who told us about it. Mary Tyler Son is obsessed with Legos, so it was an easy decision.
When I got there yesterday, nearing the end of a long and stressful day involving conference calls and hospital time and too many unknowns, there was my boy, running towards me full throttle, arms outstretched, shouting about what a great day he had had. “Can we go get ice cream with L?” Yes. Yes, we can. Let’s do it. It was an unexpectedly perfect ending to camp day. And just as Mary Tyler Son and L get closer, I find myself getting closer with L’s mom, too. The perfect parallel process of friendship.
Watching my boy grow is a gift. My little boy, nee toddler, nee baby, nee bump, nee love. He is off and running, finding his way, meeting and choosing his friends, expanding his world. Just as he should. And here I am watching, a happy bystander to his growing life.
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