Last year, The Boy made friends with a kid whose mom described him to me as “a bit prickly.” Let’s call him Prickly Kid. The Boy is pretty good at making friends–he is a good talker, and a pleaser. He gets shy sometimes, and once in a while he has a conflict with another kid, but mostly he gets along with everyone. And for that, I am grateful. The Girl already has a frenemy, so I know things are going to be a bit rougher for her when she starts school.
But back to Prickly Kid. Sometime in the late fall, Prickly Kid’s mom, who is not even remotely prickly herself, sent me a very sweet email saying she was so grateful for The Boy being a good friend to Prickly Kid because he can be, well, a prickly kid, and would we like to get together for a play date. And of course I said yes, because how sweet of her to like The Boy! When she suggested we go to an indoor play space that has a restaurant/bar attached to it, I knew she was one of us.
And of course, we had a delightful time and drank wine while the kids ran wild in the indoor play area. It was awesome. Here I had a new friend to drink wine with, and Prickly Kid, who had trouble making friends, had The Boy, and The Boy had Prickly Kid, and everyone was happy.
Every classroom has a Prickly Kid. The Boy told me just this morning that there is a new kid to the school who is a Prickly Kid, who is in his class this year. I asked The Boy if he would be willing to hang out with New Prickly Kid, and help him settle in, and he said he would think about it.
The thing is, you don’t have to be a Prickly Kid to have trouble making friends when you are new to a school. Shy Kids have the same trouble, as do Frightened By Change Kids, Sensitive Kids, Kids With Autism, Kids With Unusual Names, Fat Kids, Skinny Kids, Kids Who Climb On Rocks…you get where I am going with this. It is hard being the new kid, period.
And it isn’t easy for the non-new kids to integrate a new kid into an existing social circle. The Boy was worried about how his existing friends would react to him inviting New Prickly Kid to sit with them at lunch. The Boy is awesome, but he isn’t some superhero who can overcome all peer pressure and say “fuck it, I choose kindness over fear” every time.
But the stakes are much lower for me as a parent. For me to email another kid’s parent and say “Hey, play date sometime?” is waaaaaay less scary than it is for The Boy to ask a kid to sit with him at lunch. Which is why I will be emailing New Prickly Kid’s mom to see if they would want to do a play date with us. Because, that is what I hope someone would do for me if my kid was the new kid in school.
I don’t often ask you, dear readers, to take any action, but I hope this post will encourage you to reach out to the new kid’s family to see about a play date. Because welcoming newcomers to our community is the right thing to do. And besides, maybe New Prickly Kid’s mom likes wine too.