"That's my friend."
The way she interacts in these situations is different than in the past. It reminds me how much she is changing and growing up. This weekend especially created one of those 'she'll always be my baby even when she's not a baby anymore' sort of feelings. Plus it brought out a range of emotions in me that I wasn't quite expecting (more on that later).
I missed the first friend event, a play date with Grant (Jesse's co-workers' son), because I am an idiot (I drove 45 minutes to a funeral that is NEXT weekend. *sigh*). Grant will be attending Riley's day care one day a week starting this week. It was a bit of a 'get to know a familiar face' play date and while I was bummed to miss the get together it was ok I wasn't there because Riley had fun even without me (shocking, I know). Apparently, she was a little shy at first, but the kids quickly warmed up to each other. The play date started at our house, moved to Panera for lunch, and ended up at the local pet store which is a new hot spot for Riley.
On Monday when Grant arrived at daycare I was told that it was a little overwhelming with all the kids gathering around, but apparently my kid walked up and said "Hi Grant". I can only hope it brought him a little comfort to see a familiar face.
On Sunday afternoon Riley made another new friend. I had just come home from my dad's house when I found Jesse outside with Riley talking to the 7 year old neighbor girl and her dog. I've seen this girl around as she's always riding her bike past our house and waving, and only lives a few houses away. I always got the sense that she wanted to play with Riley even when Riley was a baby. Many of the other kids down the block are older than her so I could tell she wanted a play mate.
We invited this little girl, Greta, to play sidewalk chalk with us. The girls seemed to click even with an age difference of 4 years. Some of the older girls down the block came outside and Greta said 'hi' to them. And then my kid, who can be a little on the shy side at first, started walking over to this other yard telling these girls about her new friend and making sure they knew I was her mommy. They pretty much ignored her. I don't know if it was because she was hard to understand (soft spoken 3 year old talk) or if they were just too cool for the little kids. Every time they would ride their bike past our house Riley would attempt to talk to them, but they wouldn't really respond. Greta had to point out to them that Riley was trying to talk to them.
It broke my heart a little.
They weren't outright mean and I'm not sure she totally got that they weren't really giving her much attention, but I did and it made me think of all the times in the future that some other person might not be nice to her and might hurt her feelings in some way.
It made me feel so vulnerable for her. I wanted to give her a big hug to remind her that she is unconditionally loved by someone.
And at the same time I was so proud of her for attempting to talk to the big girls, for making sure to point out who I was, for her exuberance in playing with this new girl. It made me laugh and it made me want to soak it all in to share with Jesse and to remember every detail for myself.
So many emotions!
Eventually, Greta and Riley moved to the back yard where they made food in the playhouse kitchen. And Riley started up a conversation with one of our neighbors (seriously, whats up with this girl). And then they kicked the ball around and played with the slide. And then they made beds out of lawn furniture cushions. And I thought it was going to go on forever - which is good except when it's dinner time and playtime just has to end. Riley looked so excited that I didn't know how to break it up.
But eventually, we did have to end playtime. Greta said she would look for us when we were outside in the future and she encouraged us to stop by her yellow house when we wanted to play. I took Riley inside and she started crying, not able to comprehend why the fun had to end. She only cried for a short while and then went to the window to look for her friend.
You're breaking my heart kid.
The next night after I put Riley to bed our doorbell rang several times. I, of course, cringed that it was ringing as I was afraid that would wake her up, but I knew who had to be at the door. It was Greta and she even brought a friend who looked to be somewhere between Riley's age and Greta's age. Unfortunately, I had to turn them away, but it made me realize that Riley's getting to that age where she'll have the neighbor kids over... and eventually will hang out at other kid's houses and I won't always be there when she's playing.
Seriously, how did she get this big? And how can I slow her aging down a little - I don't want her to grow up too fast.
My husband shared that the girls played together this afternoon while I was at work. He noted that Riley was soooo excited to have her new friend over. And apparently, the new friend's parents want to meet us. Oh my, another thing I didn't think I would be doing already - getting the approval from other parents.
Oh, how my life has changed in the last few years. And how cool it is to see my baby develop into a little girl.