second grade setup

I have some great and amazing friends. Ones that will bring me a meal when I'm sick, flea bomb my house, split their fries with me or listen to me not make any kind of sense for long stretches at a time and laugh at my jokes. Even when they aren't all that funny.
But sometimes I still long for something a little bit closer. In proximity and intensity.
A best friend. Even though I am probably already blessed beyond measure in that department.
I know that I am too old for this, but I long for a BFF just like I did back in the 2nd grade. When everyone else showed up to school on Fridays with a sleeping bag and a note to go home with a friend.

I can not stress enough, how great my friends are. How I've found a solid group of 4-5 girls that I can ask the hard questions to -- like what to do about my kid's rash, if my outfit looks ridiculous or what kind of wine to buy. And as a grown up, well...i just don't have the kind of time that I did when I was younger. And I do really miss my clear neon light up phone that I spent half my waking time on. Now, I do not need to waste hours discussing who is hotter Brandon or Dylan. But sometimes I'd still like someone to run a race with. Eat lunch with. Or discuss who is hotter Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper.

Let's not even mention that my husband is amazing. He likes to watch Anthony Bordain with me, pushes me to run faster and try harder and doesn't flip out when I spend our grocery money on Mumford and Sons tickets. He is a great friend, even if he doesn't want to hear about my uterus or get a pedicure.

And people at work can make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Share their diet cokes when I am crashing and send emails from my computer (as me) asking for advice about my rash...and cover my classes in a pinch.

I have people. Great people. Amazing people.
I shouldn't be, but sometimes, I am still really lonely.
And I wish making friends, and keeping them and sorting it all out was as easy as it was in 2nd grade. When eventually, I ran into the other new girl on the playground with a chili bowl hair cut and ended and suddenly I had sleepovers and half a heart necklace of my own.

So, when I am tucking my son in at night recently...and he sighs and tells me he doesn't have any friends at school. My heart breaks.
And then a few days later, in the pick up line at school -- he tells me he wishes he had people to play with at recess. Instead of walking around by himself.
I felt that ache in my chest again and it didn't go away when even after I bought both of us a snow cone on the way home.

My son has people. Just like me. Our cul-de-sac is the place to be until the sun goes down. Last night there were at least 7 boys out there on bikes, scooters and go carts. Playing, giggling and skinning knees. There are bases taped to the street for impromptu games of kickball. And I do not go easy on any one under the age of 5. He plays baseball and soccer and seems to be the one at practice easily cutting up with the other kids. We go to church and he makes friends with even the high school age helpers. And my friends of course, have kids that he can't wait to play with.
but. he is still lonely. He isn't picked for a group on a field trip and I am determined. I will get over my fear of all things PTA and help a boy out.

He mentions a boy in his class, and I remember getting an email from his mom about volunteering at a class party. (she wanted me to help with the craft table, which should be obvious to anyone at this point that clearly this mom does not know me.)

After a few conversations with my friends about the best way to handle this, I type a cute little email asking a complete stranger if her son might want to come hang out with my own super cute smart sweet and funny son. I refuse to use the word play date and suggest that maybe....since she doesn't know me AT ALL...that she might want to meet us at a park or something along those lines. I try not to sound too desperate, even though I totally am and I hit send. A little nervous like i just asked someone out.

A few hours later she wrote back. That her son would love to come play and that he REALLY likes going to people's houses....so why don't I just take them home from school one day. I was so enthused about telling my son that he had a friend FROM school is coming over.....that I try to overlook the fact that I will have to clean my house and car out. To impress an 8 year old.

Wanting this to be a success for my son, I spend some time cleaning up the house the day before. I text his mom to confirm and am extra nice and put my son's booster seat in the back so that this kid can't make fun of him for still having one. Then his mom texts me to tell me that her husband will be picking him up. And I immediately stop cleaning. Because dad's don't tend to notice that kind of thing.

The next day as my son walks to the car, with his friend at his side -- he is beaming. I am also smiling, not at my BFF match making success, but because I catch a glimpse inside the minivan next to me. and it is messy. like my car normally is. And this mom doesn't have crazy eyes. or pajama pants on. or a cigarette dangling from her bottom lip. She looks just like me. with a really messy car. and i suddenly wonder how awkward it would be if I asked for her # for my own little play date. My bubble is very quickly busted. Long before we can buckle our seat belts....which I have to ask this new kid to do 5-6 times before he finally complies. I haven't even put away my pick up tag (these pick up lines are very serious and orderly business and you only have to run into one car in front of you to get a reputation) before this kid is bossing not only me but also my son around. Suddenly, it is all going south. I listen to my son ...trying so hard to impress ...let this eight year old boss him around.

I do not text or play my music loud on the way home. I make sure the music doesn't have bad words. because company calls for your best behavior. Unless you are the other kid in my back seat. I hand over some cash to my son and send them into QT for snacks. This other kid, takes the 5 and tells my son he can have the 1$....and so I decide that I better go inside. They get slushes and snacks. I talk potential BFF out of a king size candy bar after much whining and complaining -- and he still tries to keep my change. He then takes one bite out of his normal size candy bar (all while i am praying that his parents arent the type that only allow apples for snacks) only to spit it out and say that he doesn't like it after all.

I tried to stay out of the conversation, but in a lull I started asking questions.
I couldn't believe it, but my father's go to question fell out of my mouth and I asked what his dad did. I'm not sure he understood the question, because he said that in the morning his dad sometimes takes a nap. So I tried again and asked if his mom worked. Again, he replied...."yes, she works out sometimes. But she does her push ups funny. On her knees." So I tried a new question. What do you like to do? Do you play any sports. He responded "On Monday I play Wii, on Tuesday I play my DS"....and it continued with a mapped out plan for each piece of gaming equipment. I started to tune him out around Thursday....to which he asked me if I was even listening.

Then we picked up little sister. Within seconds, he declared that she was annoying.
And I occasionally have that thought my self. But. He doesn't share half her DNA so he does not get that luxury. And he didn't think it but said it outloud. to her.
Which is a big mistake buddy. Because if anyone can hold their own in my house it is Tess.

The rest of the way home, I prayed that Tess wouldn't hurt him and I thought to myself that never again will I meddle in my kid's social lives and that maybe making friends no matter what the age is never easy no matter how much I like to idealize it. I was really appreciating my own friends. And especially thankful for their kids who do not steal my change and boss me around. I was lost in my thoughts and mostly tuned the conversation in the back seat out, except when I heard an unfamiliar voice tell me that he often gets carsick. And then I prayed that he would not puke in my new(ish) car and wondered if he did if I could call his parents to pick him up early.


playdate update: After a rocky ride home the new couple disappeared into my son's room for several hours and played happily. No video games. No fighting. No throwing up in the car. And Tess didn't even have to take anyone out. My son is on social cloud nine, so maybe I was a little quick to judge....although I did have to pry the rest of my change out of his hand as he walked out the door to go home.