According to his neurodevelopmental pediatrician, Thing Two is somewhat backward socially because he was still trying to figure out the whole communication thing back in preschool when everyone else was learning to play nicely; i.e., his social issues are secondary to the communication ones. I am not entirely convinced that she's right, but his social skills are unquestionably getting better as his language ability improves, so hopefully we will eventually hit the point at which it no longer matters. Right now, he sometimes stands too close and speaks too loud and touches too much and I am beyond grateful for the patience and forbearance of his playmates. I sometimes feel that we are in a race against time, that we need to catch him up socially before his peers start to see him as weird and different and exclude him, which would break his little heart since he desperately wants friends.
He has kids he plays with at school, but is not often invited for playdates outside school. I hate to think that this is the beginning of secondary social status, but it may be. After unsuccessfully trying to set up a play date for him with one friend a few weeks ago (it seemed that logistics were the issue) I tried again with a different friend this week. I emailed the friend's mother Monday, and hadn't heard back as of this morning, despite the fact that I'd seen the mom a couple of times in passing this week and gotten waves each time. I have to admit that I was pretty upset by the time I picked the kids up from camp this afternoon, since I knew how hard my son would take it if this boy didn't want to play with him anymore. But then, when I walked in to the school gym to get the kids, Thing Two was playing tag with the boy in question, and both looked like they were having fun. Not seeing the other mom around, but emboldened by what I'd seen, I re-sent my invitation email when I got home.
This time, I got a quick response. Apparently she hadn't seen my message. Her son does want to play with mine, and we have a playdate set for Sunday afternoon. I am taking the boys bowling, and then back to our house to swim. Thing Two will be so excited when I tell him.
I don't want to be that paranoid mother. It is summer. People are busy and have a lot going on. The first friend is the youngest of six kids, and the second is the oldest of three boys born in a three-year span. There are good reasons why play dates might not work out that have nothing to do with my son. But I am afraid for him, and my thoughts often go to the worst even if there are other explanations. I need to work on that, because I don't want to be that mother or that person. Somewhere out there is a good friend for my son, and if it turns out that he hasn't met this friend yet, we will find him or her. I swear it on my love for my child.