Earlier this year, when I started going to the YMCA, Bean met a little girl in the childcare center. Her name was Ava, and he looooved Ava- he sought her out each day, and played and played and played with her. Bean doesn’t make friends especially easy, and that Ava seemed to enjoy his company warmed my heart. Ava’s mom and I shared pleasantries in passing, but that was the extent of our adult interaction.
Late in the spring before school got out, the woman I carpool with phoned and told me about a new family in our ward that send their kids to the same charter school we attend. Cool, I thought- three ways is better than two. We worked out a new schedule and began lugging all our kids around. The first morning the new mom pulled into my driveway, Bean bounded out the door, practically wiggling out of his skin in delight- it was Ava’s mom- and Ava was in the car.
She was just in pre-school then, and Bean was still at his special-Ed kindergarten, so they didn’t get to carpool, but it brought him great delight to know he could wave to her.
Cut to fall…
Ava has begun kindergarten at our charter school, and Bean has now been completely mainstreamed for first grade. (another post) and today, when it was my turn to pick them up from school, Bean and Ava finally got to carpool together. Now, this may seem like a silly little thing- he’s six, she’s five, whatever. Inside, I was holding my breath, hoping– as she followed me out to the car with Bean and the five other kids I deliver to their homes– that she would be as sweet and kind and like Bean as much as he likes her. The first thing out of her mouth was “I want to sit next to Eric!”
Piling all the kids in the car, every seatbelt was taken, and Ava wedged her booster seat into the center spot between Bean and Abby. When she couldn’t get her buckled fastened, Bean unhooked himself, and carefully fastened her belt. They giggled and laughed all the way home, and she never rolled her eyes or shoved him away- something I fear he is too used to.
In her driveway, Bean offered to carry her booster seat to her front door as I helped the other kids from the car- and as the last of that delivery piled out, I turned to see Ava enthusiastically throw her arms around Bean and give him a giant hug. Lump, meet throat. Oh what’s this? Tears in my eyes? No, just a speck of dust, surely.
As Bean ran up her driveway toward the car, Jeffrey began to tease him loudly from the passenger seat. Whirling around and shooting teary daggers from my eyes, I threatened his very existence if he so much as peeped. No, son. NO. Do not take this sweet, innocent friendship from your brother with teasing and big-boy gender crap. Shut it. Now.
Jeffrey leaned over to me, in a stage whisper told me they had played together all recess, and were using their hands to make hearts on the playground. Bean looked out the rolled-down window with a half-smile on his rosy cheeks the whole way home.