“You guys wanna play basketball with me?”
He stood on the very edge of our lawn in his shorts and hoodie holding a small basketball.
The other bigger kids continued to chase each other and play. One kid lingered on the edge of their lawn near to where Eddie was standing.
“Hey! Do you guys want to play basketball with me?!?” He asked louder.
Even though the one kid was hanging near, he still managed to effectively ignore my little guy.
Eddie looked down at his Little Tikes basketball. I couldn’t see his face from my place by the kitchen window, but I could guess at the questions going through his mind. Why won’t they answer me? Why wouldn’t they want to play with me?
“HEY! WANT TO PLAY BASKETBALL WITH ME?!?!”
I called Cort to see. Eddie was obeying the rules and staying in our yard. He even kept checking his feet to make sure they were not over the line. I could tell he was antsy to go run and play tag.
Earlier that day we had heard him yelling outside in the front yard, when we peeked out the window, he was yelling down the street, “HEY! GUYS! COME HERE! I WANNA TALK TO YOU!” to the kids playing down the road.
We live on a dead end where the neighbor kids like to spend time digging holes for no other reason than to dig holes. Eddie likes to watch them. They also cut into the woods from the dead end and trek back to the field behind our house. There’s a creek back there and they like to catch crayfish and frogs. This particular afternoon, Digger Boy (the boy who digs the holes, and yes, this is the name Eddie refers to him as) and his brothers had a bucket of fish and frogs and they came into our yard to show Eddie and Cort. Eddie thought it was just wonderful.
So for the rest of the day, when he saw neighbor kids, he wanted so badly to play with them.
They are all at least five years older than Eddie is, and have no interest in playing with a three-year-old.
But Eddie doesn’t understand this, and so he stands on the edge of the yard, doing his best to make friends without breaking the rules of leaving the yard.
“I’m going to put on shorts and go play basketball with him for a bit,” Cort tells me as he rubs my back. I have been watching him with tears in my eyes for a couple minutes.
“Thank you,” I tell him before I call out the window to Eddie asking him if Daddy can play with him.
“Daddy? He wants to play basketball? Yay! I want to play too!”
As I got Charlie’s jammies on I heard lots of giggling and chasing going on around the house before Cort and Eddie burst in all smiles and exhaustion.
Eddie is so bold and makes friends so easily. He is so much braver than I was at that age. I am so proud when I see him feeling comfortable talking to other kids, but I feel those old fears of rejection that I clung too tightly to as a child.
Luckily for me, Cort reads my worry and nerves and jumps in before Eddie’s feelings can be hurt.
Besides, I think Eddie prefers to hang with his Dad rather than some dumb neighbor kids any day.