Neighbors and Friends

by Wolf Pascoe on October 10, 2010

A

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.”

Idiot.

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.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Hope October 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

As always, WP, all I can say is “awesome.” You always express, beautifully, feelings that I can totally relate to, as can most parents, I suspect, that need of to feel (to know) that your beautiful child has friends and is not destined to be a lonely soul. Not now, not ever.

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Wolf Pascoe October 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I try not to think about it more than three times a day.

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David October 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I rarely win in any head on confrontation with my kid. Unless I’m gonna use force. And I’m not gonna. So I am forced to be clever and indirect—not always easy for a dolt. I am forced to think. I’m a single father and wish I had a Nora to confer with sometimes.

But I can relate to Nick. Cracks me up thinking about him telling you he’s gonna stay in his room and not come down. I am an introvert and the slightest poke can sometimes send me inside for days. I make friends very slowly. And growing up, more than once my closest friendships started out with a fist fight. He’s lucky he has such understanding parents.

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Wolf Pascoe October 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

Nick told us once he wasn’t going to come out of his room for 27 years. He came down after five minutes and said, “It’s 27 years.”

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Raffi October 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Don’t we as adults chose our friends based on our interpretations of our feelings? Who knows what Nick felt when he saw the new neighbors. He may have had a feeling he could not express and made him feel uncomfortable meeting them. I agree with Nora, leave him alone, he will figure it out.

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Wolf Pascoe October 12, 2010 at 2:01 am

He’s still figuring, and I’m still biding my time.

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BigLittleWolf February 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Wow. This is a rich and beautiful post. And yes, wise. OK. You are Solomon after all.

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Wolf Pascoe February 4, 2011 at 12:11 am

How come I can only be Solomon when I’m not trying?

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