Yesterday, Julia and I were at a play date with 3 other moms and toddlers, along with some younger siblings. While 3 toddlers ran and screeched with happiness, Julia found a toy guitar and a toy dog. She crawled up on to the couch next to me and, for the next hour and a half, made the dog play the guitar (one song from music class, over and over). I had a brief moment of self-consciousness-- what would the others think about Julia not joining in? Should I encourage her to go into the other room with the other kids?-- before realizing that her smiling face gave me the answer about what to do: let her play. And so, the moms talked, the younger babies nursed and rolled on the carpet, and Julia ate popcorn and played by herself. It was a lovely afternoon.
When I envision my future relationship with Julia, I picture us being close. I want her to confide in me, and to trust me. And it occurred to me yesterday that first, it is likely none of the other moms cared if Julia played with their kids or not, and second, even if they did, my allegiance needs to be to Julia. When I was little, I always knew my mom would vouch for me-- I knew I could use her for an excuse if I didn't want to do something ("sorry, my mom said I can't sleep over"). If I want her to trust me as a big kid, she needs to be able to trust me now-- trust me to respect her boundaries, and trust me to help make sometimes daunting social situations comfortable. In August, she will be in preschool (sniff...insert "when did my baby grow up" montage here), and she will inevitably become more social, but for now, at 2.5, I just want her to be happy, even if that means I have to endure a few awkward moments with other moms.
Watching Julia yesterday, fully engrossed in her play, was a good reminder of that.