Without my realizing it, Bear has become a social creature.  She has playmates at daycare and at home, she recites their names lovingly.  She clings to my side for only a moment at the church nursery before running into the arms of her favorite high school girl who will be hers for the next hour.  She says “hi” to strangers in stores and then shyly turns away when they show interest.  Bear is starting to learn about how people interact with each other, and she now craves that interaction with people other than her parents.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided that Bear and I would take a trip to Target.  We had been cooped up inside for the better part of two weeks – first with Bear’s illness and then with the snow – and we both needed to leave the house.  When I told Bear that we were going to Target, she ran to her room shouting, “Shoesies, Momma!  Shoesies!”  She insisted on wearing dress shoes, which weren’t at all appropriate for the snow, but after a few half-hearted suggestions of more practical shoes, I decided to let her choose.  When we arrived at Target, several other children and their mothers were walking from the entrance to their cars.  As we passed each group, Bear shouted, “Kids!  Kids!  Kids!” until they had passed.  I realized then how much she missed playing with her friends.

Today after music class, Bear and I had lunch with a friend and her son, Jack, who is close in age to Bear.  Previously, they had always engaged in parallel play around each other.  They would acknowledge the other’s presence, but developmentally, they played alone.  Today, as I carried Bear to the restaurant, she cried out her friend’s name.  They sat across from each other in booster seats, and one would stand and then the other.  One would shriek and then the other.  One would throw food and then the other.  By the end of lunch, they were standing in our booth, hitting the blinds, and shrieking at the top of their lungs.  No matter what motherly attempts we made to quiet the kids, they would giggle and continue.   They were playing a game with us, and they loved it.  As we stood up to gather our coats, Bear and Jack shot out of the booth and ran to the other side of the fairly empty restaurant.  They cowered giggling in the far corner of the room.  When we made our way to them, Jack ran in one direction and Bear ran in the other.  Once I had corralled my little girl and wrestled her into her coat, I carried Bear to the car.  The entire way, she said, “Dack.  Dack.  Dack.”  She missed her friend already.

When did this happen?  Before I know it, she’ll have a boyfriend.

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