To "play date" or not is one of those parenting questions we all ask but don't know the answer to until we try it. What if they push Ava around? Bite her, pull toys, use bad words or cry a lot? How the other child will react or how our own will behave is enough stressful wonder that I decided to x the idea entirely. But over time, I have noticed a growing fondness Ava has to be around other "kids her age." Little Noah can barely keep up with her now.
In public, she shares her toys - and she lets me know if someone on the swing set is sad. When Tessa from across the street comes over to play, Ava helps her with her shoes and puts on her jacket for her. She also gives her food off her bowl. She genuinely cares for other kids and I thought I would give this a try. So when Bobby took up our offer and came over on Friday - we were all excited.
The thought of another 2-yrd old running around, challenging Ava and well, laughing and enjoying being a toddler together is just utterly precious. I didn't know what to expect - but I was so proud of Ava. And how hospitably sweet she was from the moment he joined us. She woke up 30 minutes early and was dressed faster than any chocolate-milk bribe I've used in the past. She ran back and forth to check the window to see if they arrived during breakfast. And when he did - she couldn't stop smiling.
They played Gone Fish'in like pros even though their game strategy didn't follow the box set rules. Noah came over and joined the fun and then like fleeting toddlers - they wanted to move-on to something else - Noah didn't mind as long as he could be in on the action. I pulled out the train tracks I bought years ago for Ava - and the three of them put it together. They drew pictures on the art table, finger painted, played ball, read books, matched puzzles, played outdoors on the swing, slide and sandbox and even pushed "baby" in the stroller. We splashed in puddles, blew bubbles and rolled around in the tunnel. Aaron took them out for a wagon ride around the neighborhood while Noah napped in a deep slumber from the morning activities. By the time they washed up and changed, Aaron prepared Ava's favorite from scratch- chicken nuggets. They devoured them with the help of organic ketchup and tater tots. Preparing for naps was an experience, and at one point, I thought I'd never get the two to settle down. But they did - and I was so proud of them.
I was also very proud of how Ava overcame my fear of raising a self-confident child. There are subtle ways in which she demonstrates her confidence - but when seeing her interact with others - I am filled with such content. Ava decided she wanted to paint after snack-time. But Bobby wanted to kick the ball back and forth. So she marched to her art table and painted - alone. Not worrying about Bobby and whether or not he was having more fun than her. It was not about that at all. On top of that, I played kickball with Bobby - and I was praising him of how good he is with the ball. Ava could see and hear us - and not once did she change her mind. She painted in steady strokes... asking for more orange paint. We mixed colors and she continued to fulfill her desire to create. And just like that, she put down her paintbrush and ran towards us.
Could it be that inspiration struck her and she was obligated to paint - or could it be that no matter what, we should all do what we enjoy doing. To put ourselves first and be content even if we have to do it alone?
I'd like to think its the latter - simply for the very fact that often I struggle with this very scenario myself. And many people around me do as well. My hope is that there are millions of other moments like this - where Ava will find happiness with herself first and not depend on others to shape her. That she will define her characteristics by her passions and not by someone else's interests. I can only hope ...and wait.