The changes you have made from three years to four years are mind-blowing. Today you asked, “Mom? Can you call Max Moms’s so I can go to his house to pyay?” If you know me at all, this would normally make my insides twisty and my head go foggy until I inevitably would say, “sorry, Honey, Mommy doesn’t do play dates”. It’s not that I don’t want you and your sister to have friends, I do. But Home is my safe space, and leaving it to hold conversation with a stranger for two hours while you play with your new, sweet friend feels like climbing a slippery, icy mountain wearing tap shoes smothered in coconut oil. But if you knew your three-year-old self, you would know that at the end of the year your teachers were concerned that you were not as verbal as they would have liked and suggested you might need extra help making friends. I don’t know how they came to that conclusion at all seeing how playing with your pretend friend, Nolan, is a perfect example of imagination at its best, and isn’t parallel play normal for three anyway? I kindly rejected their concerns and told them how well you spoke at home among people you actually liked and how you have plenty of friends, thank you very much. I insisted that this was a personality trait and that you took after me. I said this in the nicest way possible, of course, and I left out that part about how I would rather sit by myself in a room full of books than socialize with a room full of strangers any day of the year. No one needs to know about my hermit tendencies, or my need to remove myself from the stimulation of a party just so that my ears will stop ringing and the carbonation in my brain will stop fizzing.
“I really want to play wif Max at his house. Can you call his mom on this day?”
I don’t know Max or his mother, and I don’t know their phone number. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to jump up and whisk you over to their house this very second. The truth is, this is the first time you have asked to play with a real person who isn’t a family member or “Nolan” or Mario or Luigi. You are forming relationships with real people and becoming a real boy! I’m imagining an interaction with a sly fox and cat in the middle of a dirt road and I’m feeling anxious at the thought of all the decision-making you will encounter along this path. But you are not made of wood and I don’t have a blue fairy in my back pocket, so let’s make a promise to one another. I promise to never hold you back in this life, if you promise to never sprout donkey ears and grow into a full-fledged ass, okay?
“Yes, Baby. I will try to find out Max’s mommy’s phone number so we can get together to play.”
And just like that, we’re growing up.