For well over a year now, we have had weekly playdates with two other families. I have loved watching our children’s relationships develop as they have grown through this year. The girls sometimes want to involve the boys, and sometimes want to play on their own. The boys have moved from parallel play to actually playing with each other. We’ve added two babies who love to stare at each other and wave their arms, grabbing for each other’s faces, eagerly planting long, slobbery kisses.
The children have developed a system of borrowing each other’s toys. I think this started with Lillian–she wanted to borrow a unicorn that Silas had, and he let her. After she returned it, he mentioned her every time we played with it. James accidentally left a ball at our house, and Silas played with it more than any of his other balls–and proudly returned it the next time we saw him. Elisabeth and James borrowed a purple hedgehog from Silas, and, for a week, this was the most popular toy at their house.
This week, James had a car that he had borrowed from Lillian. Bethany told me that her mother-in-law had seen his excitement over the car and wanted to buy him one of his own. Bethany talked her out of it, pointing out that the children are learning so much about sharing, caring for each other’s toys, returning them. “We don’t each need to have every toy,” she said. “When they borrow toys, they have them for exactly as long as they are interesting and then they give them back.”
She’s entirely right, of course. Silas looks forward to, and asks for, particular toys at his friends’ houses, but they are mostly special because he only sees them once every few weeks, and only with his friends. It’s like my toy-rotation scheme, on a much broader scale.
Today, on our way home from our playdate, Silas said, “I love my friend James. He’s my best friend.”
My heart melted. “I love James, too,” I told him.