I am a self-described introvert; I dread going out and meeting new people and socializing. When you have a kid you have to suck it up sometimes to open up possibilities for friends/playdates. Setting up playdates for your kids is easy when you live near your own family and friends; it gets slightly more difficult being in a new state/city and not knowing anyone.
I always think I should put myself out there and ask people to meet up for playdates, but I have a lot of fears about it. My first fear is judgment; that I may be judged on my personality, my parenting skills, my child’s delay, his behavior, his tantrums, and basically anything. I also have an irrational fear that my son may never find a kid he can truly be good friends with. Will we find a family that understands his tantrums and stays patient through them? Will we find another child who doesn’t care if Eli can’t talk, or even the fact that he acts a little different from them? Finding playdates for us is hard because if we get someone who doesn’t understand Eli or our whole situation it will just end with Eli and I with bruised egos. I always hear parents say “oh my child plays with everyone; she’s very friendly.” I’m sure she is, but will she still be when Eli isn’t sharing and crying and screaming most of the time?
Yesterday I realized one good way to spot a better playdate is to not get kids in Eli’s actual age range, but to go with his mental age range. Because of his delays, Eli is more accurately around age 2 rather than his actual age (3). So if we set up playdates with younger children, Eli will fit in more and the children won’t notice his differences. Most importantly, the kids will be able to play better on an even playing field. My hope is that when we start his developmental preschool in August that finding friends will become a lot easier for Eli. It can be a lonely world for those who don’t fit it, I just want Eli to have the best childhood he can possibly have.