Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tagalong Kid

So one of the things I've been trying to do, while Madison is at preschool, is to get Reagan some friends of her own.

I want YOU to be my friend!

When Madison was a baby, I was a first time mom (obviously). When you're a first time mom, especially if you'll be spending any time at home, you want to get out and meet other moms. I joined mom groups, I enrolled Madison in Gymboree, we went to Mother Goose story time, all the usual mom meet ups. Was I looking for friends for Madison? No, not really. I was looking for other moms. Moms with babies like mine, who I could ask for advice, and share stories, and get a few hours of adult socialization in before returning home to baby central. And that's what I got.

But a great side benefit was that Madison had built in friends. Peers her age she could play with. We obviously haven't stayed in touch with everyone, but as a three year old, Madison has a nice little group of friends, who she knows and likes to play with. We were setting up a playdate today, and she was running around the kitchen cheering that she got to see one of her friends again.

When Reagan was born, I already had a mom network. I didn't need to search out a group of new mothers. And when Reagan was a newborn, Madison was a young toddler. Most of the "baby" groups weren't all that excited about an active toddler. I could bring Reagan to Madison's activities, because I could have her snuggled into the Moby or Ergo. But I really couldn't bring Madison to mommy and baby activities. So Reagan didn't really get the benefit of making friends. Yes, those moms of Madison's friends have started having their seconds, but Reagan is the oldest. When all the kids get together, Reagan falls into a weird position. She's not one of the "babies", but she's not one of the "big kids".

I figured that when Madison went to preschool, I could try and find some things for Reagan. With kids her own age. Where she wouldn't be the tagalong little sister or the unruly toddler attempting to sit with the babies. She could make her own friends and play with kids who are on her level.

The problem? Reagan doesn't really cooperate.

We go to "Family Time" at the library while Madison is at school on Thursdays. It's a neat program - basically a free for all playtime. There are stories, there's a craft, but the kids don't need to sit and listen - or even participate in any of those activities. They can just play with a room full of toys.

I figured this would be a great way to meet some moms with kids Reagan's age. The moms are totally free to socialize while they supervise playtime. I'll see moms chatting together as their kids build with blocks, or play with the dolls, or do puzzles, or play in the kitchen, whatever.  I've yet to really get to join them...because Reagan doesn't sit and play.

She likes to run. She likes to explore. She flits from toy to toy as a toddler is expected to, without lasting more than a few minutes in any particular place. Which means my conversations are the mom version of speed dating. And the connections are about as meaningful.

So not making any real "friends" at the big deal.

But gymnastics? That's a great place! These are moms with other active kids! Perfect!

And Reagan doesn't cooperate there either. I can't tear my focus away from her for a second. There just isn't a chance to really get to know anyone. We've been in this new gymnastics program since November and I still don't think I know anyone's name.

Not a big deal for me, but I'm realizing that Reagan still doesn't really have any friends of her own. And I kind of feel bad about that. I'm starting to brainstorm ideas for her second birthday party (which is a separate freak out) and I'm feeling pretty sad that she doesn't have any friends that are her friends. She has Madison's friends. And the baby siblings of Madison's friends. Just where she's been throughout her entire life of interacting with kids.

So help me out. How do you help your YOUNGER child make friends? Do you just wait until preschool? Are they destined to be the tagalong forever?
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