The new family moved in across the street. A young couple with two kids, a twelve-year-old boy and a girl Nick’s age (8).
Playmates, I think. Built in playmates!
“I’m going to invite them to a barbeque in our backyard,” I said.
“Then I will stay in my room and not come down,” Nick said.
“But this is a golden opportunity.”
“I’m not coming down.”
It’s so tempting. It feels like if I just insist enough I can overcome his resistance. But I know this road. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. I look for Nora instead.
“Let him alone. Meeting new people is scary for him.”
I know it’s scary for him. That’s what makes it so appealing that these people are living in the neighborhood. They’re neighbors. They’re familiar. They’re around. It’s built-in friends, for God’s sake.
“Give him time.”
I remember four years ago when Nick was in the Fern Hill pre-school yard. He picked out one boy, Lance, whom he watched.
“Lance is the head bad guy,” he said to Nora.
He watched Lance all that year, and the next, and the next. Last year he had a play over with Lance, their first. They’ve had several more since. From the age of five, Nick played with some boys. But for others, like Lance, he waited. He waited half his lifetime.
As I write the words half his lifetime, I realize Nick is a will-o-the-wisp, and I am at sea. I want abundant friends for him, I want things easy for him. I want. I want. I don’t want him to be lonely like me.
If I don’t want him to be lonely, the best I can do is to make a home where he feels welcome. Who knows what a kid who can wait half a lifetime will do? Probably, it won’t involve righting the wrongs done to me.