For the past few years, we've noticed that Andi doesn't have playdates like most kids. Part of that is/was due to her busy therapy schedule, but where were the invitations? Andi hasn't had one friend that's called her, invited her to do something, or just hang out. We wanted to get her into Girl Scouts or Brownies, thinking that would be a great way to foster friendships, but there wasn't a chapter at her school. Her teachers report that everyone likes Andi at the entire school. They all know who she is and most of them look out for her. So, her Dad and I have been smelling our own arm pits wondering, 'is it us? do we stink!?' And then we scratch our heads and wonder why she isn't experiencing this childhood rite of passage, friendship. Moving into this house, like I've written before, one of our many motivations for getting a house with a pool, was to encourage social get-togethers, not just for us - but for Andi too. I know when I was a kid, we'd always hang out at the kid's house with a pool when the club was closed. This is what we hoped for with Andi. She had her first friend over to swim a few weeks ago, and next thing I know, Andi tells me on the way home from After-School Care that she invited her over for a sleepover and she said yes!
All week, Andi was counting down the days until her friend came over for a sleepover. She'd constantly ask me, 'what are we going to do?' and not only repeat the questions rolling around through her mind, but she was seriously mapping it out in her head. The morning that her friend was to come over, she awoke giddy. She was in such a good mood, so excited. She was literally floating around the house with excitement. It was pretty dang cute.
She was so excited, I'm actually surprised she didn't give herself a belly ache! We worked on setting up her room, bringing her old twin mattress and putting it on the floor next to her bed. She helped me make up her friends bed. She just buzzed around the house with this wonderful energy.
Her friend arrived and we 'shot-the-sh*t' with her parents, who are pretty dang cool. When they left, I ordered a pizza via Uber-Eats, and they went downstairs to enjoy a movie on the big TV while we awaited the pizza. We never did get to see The Greatest Showman for the 43rd time, but whatever. After pizza, we played Sleepover MadLibs, ate some homemade ice cream, played Kids On Stage (Charades), and then had a dance party. By this time, it was 10:00 and the girls were hyper, but exhausted. They got ready for bed and once I got Andi to "be a big girl" and leave the lights off for the night, just having a night-light on -- I closed the door and that was the last I heard from them. They were out. By 6 a.m., they stirred. By 6:30, her friend kept whispering Andi questions, 'are you awake?', 'do you want to go wake up your parents?' I don't even remember what else I heard, because I was saying in my own head, 'oh honey, she can't hear you without her hearing aid on...' and that just made me sad for Andi. It made me realize that we probably need to start keeping her hearing aid in her room. I've noticed that when I wake her in the mornings, and put on her hearing aid and music, she wakes much better and faster than without. It's hard to imagine how scary that must be for her not to be able to hear, how frustrating at times, how exhausting. But then I think, wow - how peaceful it must be at times too. I want to say she doesn't know any different, but she does, because she experiences it all day when her hearing aid is on. But I know, Andi will do what she does... she'll adapt, divide and conquer.
So, we're up at 6:30 a.m. and by 6:35, I'm getting demands for the chocolate chip pancakes I mentioned the night before. I was able to detour the short-order cook role for a cup of coffee, but once that was gone, they were on me again.... 'when we going to eat pancakes?' The pancakes were a big hit, and that turned into playing. They played with play dough, coloring, then they played 'school' and took turns being the teacher. They played so well together, it was so much fun to watch. Hearts flew out of my dewy eyes, as she finally had a typical kid experience that we've been waiting for what seems like forever to occur. Her parents brought donuts, and we sat around chatting while the kids played some more. Neither of them wanted to stop, but when they left, we marked two more occasions on our calendars for our next get togethers. I know Andi will be a good friend to anyone and everyone she deems worthy. I am just absolutely thrilled that she's finally got someone who wants to hang out and play. Most of my childhood memories revolve around the many people from the neighborhood I hung with nearly every day. All my best memories include these people. So, I'm hopeful that Andi will have such memories of her own that she can start creating. In the meantime, the sound of little girls giggling are still echoing this evening. The start of a glorious new chapter.