Recently a family with three children moved in next door to us. These are the first children that have lived on our block in several years and they are a really sweet family. The children are 6, 8, and 10. Just a few weeks ago Boo was invited to their yard for the first time. They have a full size trampoline in the back yard and he had been aching to jump on it. He was thrilled beyond measure! Since then he's been to their yard a few times and they have been to ours a few times. Last night when we got home he wanted to invite his friends over but he was devistated to find them not home. It took us a while to recover from the tears. I assured him that they would probably be home the next day and he could invite them then.
This morning he woke me up around 7:30 and almost the first words out of his mouth were asking if he could go see if his friends were home. I told him that it was much too early and that it would be rude to ring their bell so early. I told him he would have to wait. For the next two hours he came to me at regular intervals asking if it was still early. I finally let him watch Stuart Little 3 and told him that he could not go next door until the movie was over. He still kept asking if it was early. Finally the movie was over and I had to consent to allow him to go ring the bell next door. He was elated. I was anxious.
This was a major first for Boo. He has asked other parents to set up playdates before, but has never gone to someone's door and asked them to play. I was nervous. I wished I'd had a way to clear this with the other parents first. I imagined what would happen if they had other plans and they said no. I envisioned a meltdown on their front porch. So I made Boo practice with me first. I asked him what he would say when they answer the door, and how he would respond if they said no. He was having a rare moment with absolutely no anxiety or reservation about doing something new and my heart was SOARING! (And beating pretty fast and hard)
I escorted Boo across the yard and we saw that the kids' dad was standing on the front porch. I told Boo "look, their dad is already outside." He approached undaunted till I suggested that he go ahead and ask the dad the question he had practiced. He took one look at the dad, whom he had not met previously, and retreated with his back turned, refusing to speak. I knelt down and asked him what was wrong but he said "I don't want to TELL you." The dad was grinning and asked if he should go and get the mom. I asked Boo if he would rather ask the mom and he said yes. The dad went inside to retreive the mom and she emerged with all of the kids. Boo was so excited he was chattering nonstop and stuttering quite a bit. (Stuttering is common for him when he is nervous, excited, or upset) He finally managed to get his question out, "Can your kids come out and play?"
The family was planning to go to town together to buy seeds to plant in their garden. Boo was so distraught. It took a little convincing, but we finally got him to agree that they could come over later in the day. A few hours later the doorbell rang and two bright young faces smiled up at me asking, "Can Boo come play now?" I agreed and watched him happily traipse across the yard with his friends...without me! It was bittersweet. My heart was both breaking and soaring. This was quite a milestone for my sweet boy.
Not long after Boo went next door, the children all decided they would rather play at our house. First they played outside for a while, then they came indoors. They were here for several hours and we couldn't have had more fun! There was never even a mention of tv or computer games. They painted pictures, made crafts, played store, house, cars, trains, and doctor. Not once did I interrupt a fight or argument because there simply weren't any. It was everything I always wanted a Saturday at home to be.
The neighbor kids have gone back home now, and while it was very hard for Boo to see them leave, I am counting this day as a huge win in our book. I think this is the beginning of something great! You couldn't pry the smile off my face right now!