Since his first day at daycare, my son and this little girl were sewn at the hip. Both gregarious and outgoing personalities, they weren’t exclusive by any means, but would make their affections abundantly clear at any given opportunity.
They were hot and heavy through daycare and preschool. With an eerie confidence, she laid claim to him as her husband and although my son didn’t seem like much of a swain, the feeling was completely mutual. When asked who he’d like to play with most on any given day, he’d bellow her name with gusto. I’d never seen such pure, ardent affection flow so freely from a couple of four-year-olds.
They didn’t know from gender and they didn’t care. He’d willingly play house and she was happy to play trains. Sure, they get into it every so often, as kids do, but every time he’d cry, she’d find and squeeze the blues right out of him. This chick had his back. And he had hers.
Naturally, her mother and I eventually grew close. A couple of times a week, we’d hang out during playdates and exchange salty anecdotes over a couple of beers. But at some mystical point in the school year, she got “really, crazy busy” each time we invited them over.
After a couple of months of this all-consuming busy-ness, we got the hint and stopped asking, even though my son really missed his best gal. And I really missed my friend. I replayed scenario after scenario in my head, wondering what went awry with our cozy little mutual admiration society.
To anyone with working eyeballs, it was obvious they had plenty of time to hang with many of the girls from school. Then, on his best girl’s birthday, my son witnessed a gaggle of these girls and their moms bouncing down the sidewalk to attend a party at their house, without so much as a hello or goodbye as they left him in the dust.
My son totally lost his mind, as he couldn’t understand why his sweetie would intentionally exclude him on this day, of all days. It took hours to put out that fire. But where there was fire, there were smoky embers beneath the surface.
“Why didn’t she invite me? She’s my friend!” he tearfully agonized that evening during tuck-in.
At times like this, I can usually manage to assemble some reasonable bullshit to comfort him, but I was still reeling from the shock myself. “I don’t know why, Honey,” I stammered through tears incited by his tears. “I’m really sorry, but I don’t know why.”
For a while, I opted to stomach rather than address this blatant dis, but I could only hold it down for so long. Whatever her reasons, a true mom-in-arms would’ve respectfully briefed me ahead of time, instead of leaving me on a street corner with a sobbing mess to clean up. I eventually asked her to come correct.