Four weeks ago after school Little Margo approached a friend and said, "You really must say yes and come to my house and watch the museum at night film. It will really make you smile....." She can barely catch her breath, nor provide me the opportunity to interject, "let's do the play date tomorrow..." Her friend's dad interjects, "Baguette, needs to be somewhere after school," so a new time was set for 11:00 AM in the following Saturday.
This week, after school I was given a request by one of Margo's friends, "Margo's mom, can I come to Margo's house to play today?" Before I have a chance to say anything, she runs to her dad and informs him of the invitation, and then promptly turns to Margo to let her know the same thing. I am mystified, I was just run over by a little girl only three feet tall, and most likely 30 lbs to boot. I relent and even include the twins to the event. It has now become a hot chocolate and banana nut bread affair. The day before, Margo invited one boy and two girls to come over for hot chocolate. It had been an exceptionally cold day, and well there were some cookies to eat as well. So Yes, come one, come all to Margo's house. That afternoon there were 6 kids and three parents not including me.
The kids all played together for all these different events, and even more play dates. Why am I doing this insane thing? We are talking about two to three play dates a week for the past three weeks. Am I a sadist or just plain wimpy? Meaning I can't say no to a pleading face? No, no, no, I say it again no, I am not insane etc... There really is a method to my madness.
I remember the afternoon so clearly when Margo stood at the top of the stairs and said, "Mom, I don't know how to play with more than one friend at a time. It is very confusing." That was very interesting, and insightful for me to hear. This little comment reflected much about her brains lack of organization, so now it worked in social settings too. Here is the presence of Dyspraxia in its subtlest form. I suddenly realized I needed to provide her some opportunities at our home for 'gang play', before she would be able to figure it out at someone else's house. You see she had been to a friends house for a play date about 5 weeks before, and her friend included three or four other girls at the play date. Margo was totally lost, she wanted to lie down, or play in the sand by herself. It was difficult to get her engaged in any group activity. Some of which included dress up, and even drawing. These are some of her favorite things to do.
So now, after school, when Margo asks to have someone come over, I will suggest she invite a few other friends as well. She does, I break out the "instant hot chocolate", while they play games upstairs. Now these games can be dress up, castle or some other imaginary game called witch and children, snails or turtles etc...She is beginning to develop skills to participate in after school group play. She is learning to share her time and friends with others in the group at the same time. Little Margo no longer wants to do nothing, but is smack dab in the middle of the group activity.
I still encourage the one-on-one play dates too. These provide me a chance to get better acquainted with her friends individually. Often times I might be invited to "tell a story" about the two turtles or snails crawling on the floor. These two animals often times look just like little Margo and her friend under empty laundry baskets for shells. So yes I get my imaginative play dates in too. And well what more can I say, Margo is learning to play with more than one friend at a time. Now that is a good skill every kindergartner needs to learn...