Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Today as my kids were peacefully playing with my friend's, similarly aged, but slightly younger kids, it occurred to me that the peace we were enjoying (relative to play date peace, of course) was the result of an arranged marriage, of sorts. At least, an arranged friendship. And it is a beautiful thing.

When my son, Jack, who at nearly 6 is the oldest of the 4 kids, and my friend's oldest, whom I will call Wesley, (4 1/2 years old) first started playing together I wouldn't exactly say it was love at first sight.

My son is crazy in an "in your face" kind of way. (No idea where he gets it. Such a puzzle.) Wesley, more retiring. In fact, Jack spent a substantial amount of time unintentionally (most of the time, anyway) intimidating Wesley to tears. It would take about 20 minutes for them to warm up to each other. They would play for another 20 minutes and then the following conversation would typically occur:

J: Hey, W. Let's play Transformers.
W: But I don't like Transformers.
J: Come on, W. I want to.
W: But I don't like Transformers.
J: Why?
W: I just don't. Let's play kitty.
J: Yeah, let's play exploding kitty.
W: But I don't like that game.

And so it goes.

The problem was that my friend, Amy (assumed name), and I really hit it off. We wanted to hang out even if it killed us (or the kids). So we commiserated over the yelling and blood shed. Challenging, but worth it. (I think.)

But after a while, the pecking order was established though a variety of hazing incidents. Jack realized that Wesley is really a creative, imaginative soul like himself. And, Wesley seems to understand, most of the time, that Jack doesn't mean (much) harm and sometimes he has some really "good" ideas. (Such as riding the elevator alone and writing their names on the wall in marker.) Not only that, but they both have younger, "annoying" siblings upon whom they can "gang up" at their cooperative leisure.

So after months of playing, with mixed results, Jack and Wesley seem to have established a warm, loving friendship born of minimal respect, joint dislikes, and maximum irritation. Just like any budding marriage.

Now the conversations are much more like this:

W: Let's play kitty;
J: OK. But let's play exploding kitty.
W: All right, but you can be the kitty.

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