I know we are celebrating Independence Day in America but I'm celebrating the Best. Playdate. Ever.
Yesterday's playdate exceeded any expectaions I ever had for these sort of things. Here's how it all went down.
A few months ago I met the acquaintance of a local mom online. She and I met a few weeks ago for conversation and some Starbucks. (In case you're wondering, I am currently obsessed with Iced Oprah Chais.) At this visit I met one of her six adorable children. She and I seemed to hit it off well so we agreed upon a playdate to be determined at another time. I was so impressed by this mom, Kim (not her real name nor will any of the other names I'll be using in this post). She seemed so easy going and not at all like a mom of 6 children. I told her all about Princess and her quirks and needs but she did not seem taken aback. She was quite the opposite. She was curious and eager about meeting my little gem.
A couple of weeks later, I contacted her about setting up said playdate. She was so gracious and asked me to choose a place that Princess would feel comfortable at. She even asked me if I would prefer if she only bring her three girls and have her oldest boy watch her other sons at home. I loved her idea of not overwhelming Princess with too many kids at once, so I agreed with it. I chose Chuckee Cheese's for this meet up since it is contained and air conditioned.
On the way there I front-loaded Princess with my expectations. I asked her what she was going to do if she got frustrated. She said she would take a "Cool out" or remove herself from the situation. I also encouraged her to play with all of the girls not just the youngest as I know she likes playing with the younger set since they are mostly followers. We talked about how good behavior would look and sound. She brought up that there would be no negativity from her either. She and I discussed this as well. We role played what lip smacking and eye rolling looked like. Then I explained that there would be consequences for those actions. I felt that she completely understood what was needed to have a successful playdate.
When we arrived this cute blonde child asked me if we were here for a playdate. It turns out that she had asked her mom to show her a picture of Princess and I so she could be on the look out for us. I was impressed from the beginning. Then Faith, the social butterfly, escorted us to meet her mom and her other two sisters. I had already met the youngest, Hailey, at Starbucks and she was just a precious as I remembered. The oldest of the sisters was Ingrid, but they called her Ginnie for short. All three girls were just as charming as could be.
I gave Princess some tokens while Kim and I figured out what we'd order. The girls skipped off once Princess had her tokens so she could join them in the game area.
Again Kim and I chatted freely about many things while the kids played nicely. They checked in from time to time then came and ate when the pizza was ready.
Princess is an odd bird because she usually likes to sit on one side of a booth all by herself since she needs a lot of personal space. Not yesterday. She squeezed herself in on the same bench where two of the girls were already sitting. When I noticed Princess pushing Hailey, I encouraged her to go to the other bench where Faith was sitting. Princess decided to make the best of it and stayed where she was.
Princess shared pizza and tokens like it was no big deal. I was so proud of her.
After all of the pizza was eaten and the tokens were used up, the girls played in the indoor playground. During this time, Princess got injured on her shin. She walked up to me to show me and informed me that she needed ice and a band aid. Like any mother of a drama queen would, I pointed to the counter and told her to ask for those items from the cashier. My daughter is not shy at all so she hobbled over there to inquire about these items. Surprisingly she only used the ice a few minutes then declared she was cured before returning to play with her new friends.
When it was time to leave, there was no kicking or screaming by any of the children or their mothers. As we were going to our cars, the social butterfly declared that she wanted another playdate with Princess next week.
In the past playdates lasted no longer than two hours and usually resulted in me leaving with a crying, raging or screaming child. Normally when Princess gets the tiniest scrape it is like the world is about to end. We typically don't have a playdate with more than one child at a time because it overwhelms my daughter.
Later last night while we were swimming in our pool, I asked Princess to rate the playdate on a scale of 1-10. She gave it an 11.
There were many factors that contributed to yesterday's success. One of them was her new medication that I cannot say enough good things about. Another one is her school has been giving her so many social skills. Her private therapist works with her as well on many issues. I believe that front loading Princess before we even arrived was an important piece. My new friend's willingness and attitude helped immeasurably. She probably has no idea what a big deal yesterday was for my daughter. My child walked away from that experience with her self confidence boosted 1000%.
For all of you moms out there who have children without Special Needs who teach your child to be accepting of others with Special Needs, I just want to say thanks for spreading acceptance in your own little way.
As an end note: I cannot wait to meet Kim's three sons who are, I am sure just as wonderful, as their mom and sisters.