Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cute Neighbor

I keep talking about this heavy transition the kids are going through with the divorce. The new apartment is controversial with those two. When their emo outlook is bleak, they tell me they hate it. Violet has asked, “How long do we have to live here?!” When she’s particularly displeased with me, she hits the wall or jumps on the floor as hard as she can in hopes of disturbing our neighbors. I think a lot about how to help them make the adjustment to living in two homes.

The kids scootered in the courtyard in front of our apartment for the first time yesterday. Violet was the one who initiated the whole thing but then was so pissed that I made her wear her helmet that she stood frozen with her scooter, shooting bad vibes in a semi-circle around her. I walked up the stairs from where she was to end the stand-off, and a very normal thing happened that seemed like a miracle.

A kid came out to play with them. When he went to grab his scooter, the girls raced up the stairs to ask if they could play with the boy. You go, girls. Violet was suddenly very charming. She was doing her best scootering and her loud social laugh, shouting “woo hoo!” as she passed the boy, who is between my girls in age. She was trying to interrupt the steady flow of conversation between the boy and her big sister, whose first conversation began with the status of their parents’ relationships. I could see and hear them like crystal from my apartment. And now, my neighbors who were home at the time have a pretty good rundown of my divorce and how much I vomited this weekend.

It was amazing to see what most people of my generation and older experienced in the good old days, when you played with the random kids who showed up outside in your neighborhood. None of this parents wooing each other, comparing calendars. Just kids getting together for some impromptu fun in the fresh air and sunshine. Although, I have spoken to the boy’s mother and like her.

After about an hour, the girls rushed in to ask if the boy could knock on our door a little later because his mama wanted him home for dinner. Sure enough, the boy showed up a little later, and he’s a remarkable kid. He walks in and says, “Wow. I like your place. This is nice.” He’s five years old. The girls are falling over each other to show him the features and point out the details of their so recently despised apartment. The boy listens politely and responds enthusiastically to anything the girls want to do. At one point he says thoughtfully, looking around, “Now, do you have any toys I’ve NEVER SEEN BEFORE? Because, I think I’d like to try them.” When he announces he needs to go to the bathroom, I tell him to go ahead, and after he shuts the door behind him, he yells, “Are you allowed to lift the toilet seat in this place?” That kid kills me.

The girls’ moods were transformed yesterday evening. Daisy proudly announced the existence of her first real friend at the apartment. But the clincher was that in their first 15 minutes of playing with the boy, Violet bounded up the stairs from the courtyard to ask, “Hey Mom, how long are we going to live here? Can it be forever? Please?” I kid you not. All it took was a cute neighbor to ease the transition.

It does twist my perspective of how to help the kids adjust. Playing is really fun AND healing, and it can’t all come from me.

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