Suburban Snapshots

This is Where I Release
Her Into the Wild

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here's something I think when I watch Anna playing with her little friends: How will I know if she's the annoying kid? 

We all know one. I think in my childhood I was her for a while — the one who talks too much, or too loudly, or laughs dramatically like some goddamned theater major, the one who's maybe a little too bossy or too precocious, the kid who's overbearing. I just wonder if as her mother I'd have the objectivity to recognize it in her, knowing that there's nothing I love more than everything she is.

I think about these things more now that she's been off making friends without my help. She's the littlest mayor of our block, stopping at three houses on our evening walks to goof around with friends and dodge mosquitoes. It's amazing to observe and to realize that she's probably going to grow up with these kids — that I'll be walking her to school in this neighborhood pack of bedraggled, caffeinated moms chaperoning their backpacked children off to the elementary down the street.

Last Saturday as we made our rounds from the farmers' market (Anna insisted we buy a small pumpkin from Hot Farmer and I really had no choice but to comply. She said "please.") to the playground, we stopped where two boys were horsing around on the soccer field. "Mom, can I go play with them?" I could tell the boys were older, maybe five, and were deeply engaged in a game of tackle kickball. I worried they'd ignore her, or worse, reject her. (Interestingly, I didn't worry about my three-and-a-half year old playing tackle with two older boys, so maybe I need to re-prioritize my concerns.) I told her to go ask if she could join them and watched as Anna inched toward the two, turning to wave me toward her as I shooed her forward. I held my breath, and the next thing I knew there was a tangled pile of three giggling kids at my feet and a soccer ball languishing in its goal.

They played together for a good ten minutes before the official soccer game started. I was proud of her courage at approaching the boys, I loved watching her being independently social, and I realized that this is really the start of something. This is the start of her really being out in the world.

You guys. Hold me.

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