Click here to read Part 1
Every week we meet other homeschoolers at the park. It's fascinating to me to watch them run off and play together and see who plays with whom. They do often divide into groups based on their interests, which usually ends up meaning roughly age 9-12 go one way, 5-8 go another, and then toddlers and independent personalities stick to themselves.
But there are also plenty of times when kids of all ages will all play together, from age 2-12. Or the groups will shuffle around. And it's not because us moms have told them to be more inclusive! They genuinely enjoy the company of the kids both much younger and older than them. It's not unusual to see a toddler trying to keep up with the biggest kids as they wander around, talking about Gravity Falls or Big Hero Six and then one of them will turn around and scoop him up so he can be with them instead of telling him to go away.
Currently Tertius (age 6) is best friends with a boy who is 8. Secundus (age 8) is best friends with a girl who is 6. One of Primus' (age 10) best friends is 12.
I'm so thankful for Primus' friend "Lily." She's older, but she's not into the crazy teenage drama yet. And while she's very mature in many ways, she also still plays imaginatively. I don't remember when my friends and I stopped playing make-believe but it was almost surely before age 10. And yet, last summer it was not unusual for us to see Primus, Lily, and the rest of their gang run from one side of the park to the other to slay a dragon or whatever.
I don't think they still do that, but they usually report afterwards that they "played Gravity Falls" (or Big Hero Six or My Little Pony), and that they have made up their own characters for each other to fit in those worlds. Lily is a very creative young woman and has written fan fiction and an original novel. I'm so glad that Primus has Lily as a good example, that Primus can be herself with her, and that she can be a "kid" a little longer rather than feeling the pressure to grow up too fast or be something she's not.
However, I worry that any day now Lily will start raging with hormones and acting like the other preteens/teens. I worry that she'll lose interest in Primus and that Primus will be left behind. I'm really close to Lily's mom so our families will still be friendly. I also don't think for an instant that Lily will exclude Primus or be cliquey or mean on purpose. But I worry that their interests will diverge sharply and that will be awkward and painful.
Of course, awkward and painful experiences strengthen us, give us character, and help us grow. So that's great, but as a mom I still dread my baby going through that.
Strong friendships are so important for both children and adults and I want the best for my kiddos!