Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Emily's Friends

In the past, I chose who Emily played with.

First there was Victoria. We were at the park. Emily was a little over one and I was pregnant with Ben. Along came another family. The little girl was the same size as Emily and the Mom (Lindsay) was pregnant. We started talking. We were both due with boys just a few days apart from each other. We instantly clicked and became friends. The girls got along well and we had many playdates. Then, we moved when Emily was almost three. We still see each other on occasion, but we keep in touch regularly via Facebook and blogs.

When we moved up here, I contacted my cousin Denise. She has lived here for 10 years. She's not really my cousin, but her Mom and my Mom have been best friends for 55 years, so they are as close to family as I can get. Denise and I are the same age and grew up together. She has two kids. Stella is a little younger than Emily and they get along well. The kids would play and Denise and I would catch up, drink tea and relax in the sun.

I joined a Mom group to try to meet new friends. I found Dakri. She's fun, organized and laughs easily. My type of friend. Her daughter Alanah is just a few weeks older than Emily. They play so well together. The girls play while Dak and I chat and gossip for hours.

Then, Emily started school.

I no longer got to choose who she would play with. I'm sure I knew this would happen, but it still came as a shock to me.

She was free to make her own friends.

There are only 8 girls in her class, so she is friends with all of them and the boys too. But, she definitely has one that she would call her best friend. After the first month, all I heard about was Ellie. When it's pick up time, us Moms have to line up outside a locked door and wait to be let in to sign out the kids. One time in line, I was chatting with another Mom. Turns out it's Ellie's Mom. I was thrilled that she was nice. I only talked to her a few times and then Ellie started riding the bus home with her older brother.

Emily and Ellie must talk a lot about going over each other's houses because that's all I would hear about. Around Thanksgiving, her Mom got my phone number so we could get the girls together. It was the holidays and everyone was busy. It never happened. Honestly, I was a little nervous. I've never dropped my kid off at someone's house before. But, I wasn't friends with the Mom. I didn't feel comfortable going in and having some coffee uninvited.

David is a social worker. He's seen all kinds. What if their home is dirty? Or they make crystal meth in their kitchen? I was fairly certain that we didn't have to worry about either. I had seen Ellie's Dad a few times at school. He wears Dockers. Hardly, the drug dealer type. David wanted me to go to their house and scope it out first. It just felt awkward though.

I decided to do some investigative work and google them. Immediately I found a blog. Good sign. Mom is dedicated. Kids look normal. I was a total voyeur, looking at all the pictures, getting a glimpse into their normal lives. And there it was. A picture of her girls at a ballet recital next to a little girl that I know. I am friends with that little girls Mom. I called her immediately. Turns out they are wonderful people. And the Dad is not a drug dealer, he is a bishop in the Mormon church. Can you get any more different than that? A breathed a sigh of relief.

Now that I played detective, I was comfortable with Emily going over their house to play. We set up a playdate for last Saturday. 15 minutes before, Emily got nervous. She had never been dropped off at anybody's house. She started crying. I tried to reassure her that everything was fine, after all, I did a thorough background check. Then, I realized that my adventurous little girl is only adventurous when David and I are around. We are her security blanket.

I called Ellie's Mom and she brought Ellie to our house for the playdate. She came in and met David. I'm sure she was relived to see that he was making homemade sauce and meatballs in our kitchen and not crystal meth. Did she google me?

The girls played for over 2 hours and Ellie is sweet and respectful.

She picked this friend all on her own.

I couldn't have done it better myself.


Linda said...

I love this! I was nodding my head all along in agreement, having been there, done that, including the investigative part - even still, I run google checks and even check out the local court/police records on anyone new. Thankfully Sarah has always selected good friends. Now... lets hope this continues on into the boyfriend area - hmmpf!

Sarah's closest friends from her early years of school have all moved away - though a couple of them, I managed to keep in touch with the Moms and schedule "playdates" and later sleepovers. Sarah is so used to going other places, from the time she was little, she never shows any anxiety about going over to another person's home - Instead, it's like "Yeah, see you later, Mom - get out of here Mom". A little apprehension would have been nice once in a while.

Anyway - over time, the get togethers with these old friends have been few and far between, since like you noted - she picks her own friends.

At the high school orientation the other night, Jim and I saw a couple that we knew from back when Sarah used to be good friends with their daughter in Kindergarten. We've remained friendly with them over the years, as they moved to a nearby town, but Sarah hadn't seen their daughter since long ago. It's funny because Sarah remembers the Mom. She said "Oh, isn't that so and so?" and I said "Yes, don't you remember Allison (the daughter)?" and Sarah said NO.

They had tons of playdates in Kindergarten through probably 1st grade. It's sad that she didn't even remember her, but that's how childhood is.

They make new friends and move on.

brownymama said...

I loved this post and laughed and then got a little watery eyed. (: I was talking with Koby's teacher today, doing some detective work, myself. Thinking the same things. Why can't he just play with so and so. And he does. But sometimes he wants to branch out and hang out with someone different. It's so hard!! Told ya they were a sweet family! (;