If you happen to be a new parent reading this, let me tell you here and now that everything you read or research, here or in any so-called experts parenting book, is complete and utter bullshit. Seriously. Because the thing is, every kid is unique and no matter how much your friend insists a certain thinga-madingy is a must, your kid will probably hate it, or more likely, be completely indifferent about it. $50 for indifference is a piss off.
It did not take me long to realize this fact. One book would say one thing, the next another. Friends contradicted one another and my babies refused to follow the milestones in any set order. I gave up reading or listening to anybody but my babies. Still, those damn e-newsletters keep coming. Still! Kaya is 3 years old! Usually I just delete them automatically but occasionally I have a glance. This was the latest to arrive and once again, it goes against everything my daughter is doing:
Your ever-more-independent child is probably starting to develop some friendships. But don’t be surprised if, when you ask who her friends are, she recites her entire preschool class list. She doesn’t fully understand the meaning of friendship yet. She may have favorites, but to her a “friend” is pretty much anybody she spends time with.
Three-year-olds can play cooperatively with others, but usually not for long. A successful playdate might last less than an hour. Many 3-year-olds continue to play alone but near other children or cooperate briefly and then move on to their own activity. Long interactive play sessions will probably start next year.
This goes against everything that Kaya is experiencing right now but I can’t help but notice that it could be describing my 33-year-old self. I have a list full of friends- old ones, facebook ones, new ones and fellow mommy ones. But no ‘best’ friend. No Oprah-Gayle type friendships. Probably because I lean towards the second part of the newsletter. I can play cooperatively with others but not for long. A successful play date usually consists of about an hour. Then I am drawn into myself to write or read or go for a walk. I can do these things around others but there is a noticeable turn inwards on my part. I don’t know why. It is my nature. Maybe those long interactive play sessions will start next year?
Kaya, on the other hand has a best friend. They are true Anne-Diane type bosom buddies. At 3 years. They are inseparable at daycare and are thrilled when us parents get together too to hang out. At first I was worried that maybe they were too close. That it was hampering her social skills by not interacting with the other kids. I joke about this with one of her teachers one day and that teacher very seriously stops me and tells me that what they have is really, really special. And rare. And beautiful. In other words, leave them alone and let them be. They know what they are doing (unlike her mommy who relates to others as a three-year old does…)
Kids, preschoolers especially, have an innate, intuitive sense of people. They sense love, acceptance, anger, resentment and fear long before any of us adults pick up on such things. These two girls sensed immediately that they could trust one another. Love one another. We should all be so lucky.