Thursday, January 15, 2009

Playdate

Today when I picked up Ben from preschool another blonde boy climbed into the van behind him. My Four-year-old was having his first after school playdate. He has become friends with the son of another teacher at our preschool and has been repeatedly asking if this boy, Silas, could come over to play with his new Christmas toys. In particular, he was adamant about how he wanted Silas to play light sabers with him. Ben had received two light sabers from my mother for Christmas and Clara, despite Ben's best persuasive efforts, has been reluctant to be his sparring partner. In fact she tends to run from the room yelling "Be caweful! Ben, Be caweful!" whenever the topic is mentioned. I can't say that I blame her. I think it's probably a good policy to run away anytime someone starts chasing you with a stick. Light up or otherwise.

Ben's friend is a precocious, friendly boy whom, I think it bares mentioning, Clara is passionately in love with. In fact, every time we enter the school she runs to embrace him screeching "Silaaasss" at the top of her lungs. To his credit, he always stops what he's doing to give her a hug, thus putting me solidly in the Silas fan club as well. So obviously, Silas coming to our home was an event of rockstar proportions. And today, was the day.

Ben and Silas tore out of the car and into the house while I trailed behind them carrying bookbags and papers from school. Clara was eating lunch when they arrived, giving them a temporary reprieve from her overwhelming affection. I dropped my load inside the door and stopped to observe them, curious to see if things would go smoothly. Ben began to lead Silas through our home, room by room showing him around. All the while keeping up a running commentary in a voice that was comically serious:

"This is my house and look this is my light saber and my other light saber that changes colors that's the one you get to use when we FIGHT, and that's just my dog, Beamer, and she likes everyone, and this is my car thing and come in here...I have to show you this is my room and it's SO CLEAN (which was absolutely not true) and look these are the knights and castles I got for Christmas and my Whack a Mole game but that's really loud so my mom doesn't like it..."

And watching my son and his friend, these two four-year-old boys wandering through the house in pint-sized mimicry of grown-up civilities made my heart catch in my throat. I looked across the room at The Man, eating lunch with Clara, and saw the same emotion reflected in his eyes as he watched them. Amusement. Adoration. Wonder. It was like we could see his school years unfolding in front of us.

And then they started to play. And it quickly became apparent that they were, in fact, only four.

The ideas that Ben had carefully nursed of what he and Silas would do were shattered almost immediately. Silas had his own opinions. He wanted to play knights; Ben wanted to play light sabers. He wanted to check out all Ben's toys. Ben wanted to play hide-and-seek. And Clara, bless her heart, just wanted to be included. So I settled into my new job teaching the skills of friendship. Of how to be a good host. Of give and take. There was much whining and a few tears from Ben and to be honest, I think they argued more than they played.

And then Silas' mother came and they both started crying because they didn't want him to leave. So, they made plans to repeat the experience again next week at his house. Finally after many hurried promises of the adventures they would have together next time, Silas was gone. Ben, still weepy, crawled up into my lap. And for quite a while I sat there, rocking him slowly back and forth, wondering at the boy in my lap who seemed at once too big and too small.

9 comments:

spaz said...

I can't believe that was his first play date. Too cute. I remember that age when play dates were work...trying to get everyone to share. You think the kids had a miserable time and then when it's time to go, they run and hide and don't want to leave and you have to make all kinds of promises to get them to leave. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Ben's a cutie.

slouching mom said...

What an evocative description, Joy. I felt like I was there with these still so young boys, trying to make their way.

InTheFastLane said...

That was such a good description of learning to play. My 3 yo and his best friend (who is a year older) do much the same thing. Some days when they play, it is magic. Other days they still have a lot of work to do.

painted maypole said...

growing up is hard. helping them grow up is harder, still.

Kyla said...

This was beautiful, Joy! I feel similarly watching KayTar and her best little girlfriend play together. They are such little PEOPLE all of a sudden.

Laura said...

I love it! You really are a gifted writer Joy. My not-so-grown-up 4 year-old boy also recently got a light saber (though he and my 6 year-old argue about whether it's a "light saver" or a "life saber"), and he can't seem to get his 2 1/2 year old sister to play either. We ended up buying 2 foam swords at Toys R Us so that he can swing hard without actually hurting anyone. Parker is not known for his self-control =).

Lori said...

This was beautiful. I love this description of his first play date.

Lynn Stallworth said...

So cute! They think they are such big shots, but they're still babies! Don and I were looking at pics of the girls when they were probably 8-9. We said the same thing-they thought they were so grown up and cool-lol!

Lisa writes... said...

Oh, how they grow up and fast...