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“They Don’t Want To Play With Me”

My 2 year old daughter said these words this morning. Her eyes looked sad, and her voice was almost quivering. She stood there watching as several older children ran away from where they had been playing (near her). She walked over to the exit, closed the gate behind them and said “They don’t want to play with me”.

My stomach just about fell through the floor. I felt sick and my eyes teared up instantly. My 2 year old wanted friends and children to play with. I’ve taken a break recently from branching out and meeting new moms, and it’s always on my mind that I need to start doing it again. I want Caroline to have friends and experience that interaction. It’s on me to make it happen. In that moment, it felt like my whole world was collapsing and it was all I could do to keep it together. Caroline was actually sad about it. I had no idea.

I watched her stand there, and everything seemed to slow down. I finally found words. I crouched down next to my daughter and said “Oh no, Caroline, it’s ok. They were just going to play somewhere else. Do you want to go play with them?”.

To my surprise, she immediately answered “Yes”.

So we joined them on the trampolines in the next room. When we got there she seemed to have forgotten all about her sadness. She didn’t go looking for those children in particular, but just started jumping and running around looking at everyone. She came back to get me, “Mama come jump please!”.

Talk about a kick-start to your cause. I knew then and there that I was going to have to be more proactive about meeting moms and setting up playdates. There were two moms there that we kept running into, both with daughter’s close to Caroline’s age. As luck would have it all three of us ended up in the same area at the same time. This time, without hesitation, I asked to exchange numbers and get together for a playdate. They seemed as excited about the idea as I was and we all exchanged numbers before we left.

Now adding this to the top of my goals for 2017- find more mom friends with children around Caroline’s age! LOL

It’s such a heart-wrenching experience to have your child say something like that and look so sad.

Caroline goes to a mother’s day out program. They post pictures on Facebook, and one of the things I always notice is that Caroline seems to be doing her own thing. Toddlers do that, so it isn’t super concerning to me, but I wonder. I wonder if she wants to play with the other children and doesn’t know how to, or if they don’t play with her and it makes her sad. I wonder.

I’ve started opening up conversation about this, which is probably what sparked her to say what she said today. As we drive home from school (mother’s day out), I ask her some questions:

“Caroline, did you play with any of the other children today?”, I ask.

“No”, she responds in a very sad voice.

“Did you want to play with the other children, Caroline?”

“No”, she sounds very definitive and happy with her statement.

“Ok. It’s ok if you don’t want to play with them. But if you do want to play with them you can. You can ask them to play with you.”

She makes her little “yes” sound to acknowledge me. And that’s that. We talk about it, and I’m just feeling her out to see where she stands. Today she was very clear that she was sad when these other kids ran away.

My focus with Caroline right now is going to be providing her with the words to use when she wants to play with someone. Today she learned the phrase “Come play please”, and she said it to another little girl! I know I can’t be there in every situation, and this is just the beginning…there will be many sad moments where other children don’t want to include her. All I can do is provide her with the tools to say what she’s feeling. I can provide her with the tools to feel safe and comfortable to invite other children to play. And, I can do my part in meeting more moms and setting up playdates so she gets to build friendships. Here’s to a friend filled new year!

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