To Help Or Hinder - Friend Making

A finalist in the OHbaby! short story competition, Laura-Rose Ilkiw, proves a hit at the local kindy — for all the wrong reasons.

 My four year old was having trouble settling into morning kindy. I’d been hanging out for her to start morning kindy like a pregnant woman hanging out for her first ham roll with brie. However, she missed her old friends from afternoon kindy and found it hard finding her place in friendship groups that had already been made. So I thought I’d hang around a bit and see if I could help her make some new friends.
     We started at the play dough table. What is it about play dough that even as an adult you can’t help but squish it through your fingers and mould it? There should be play dough tables in boardrooms.
     There were two other little boys at the table happily playing.
     “What are you making, Oliver? Oooh, looks like yummy biscuits,” says I in my over-excited radio DJ voice.
     “Yip, I’m making chocolate and strawberry biscuits.”
     “Wow they look great. Do you know Kisena? She’s new to morning kindy.”
     “Yip I know Kisena. She was late and missed mat time.”
     Yes, I know, getting my child to kindy late is not going to help her make new friends. Here’s the rub; although I’d been hanging out for morning kindy I soon realised I’m not a good morning mother. I need to be some super-organiser-child-and-toddler-motivator-mother-person. I’m currently not. I’m a work-in-progress and will really try to get her to kindy on time.
     I established that the other kids at the table knew who Kisena was. However, Oliver must’ve thought I was rather genuine about his biscuits and kept making me plates and plates of biscuits.
     At first I gave Kisena the plate of biscuits and acted like, “How nice of Oliver to make them for you!”
     Oliver promptly told me off as they weren’t for her, they were for me. Poor Kisena. On to the next kid.
     “What are you making there, Ryan?”
     “I’m making Optimus Prime! He’s awesome!”
     “Oh yes, Optimus Prime from Transformers. He’s the goodie, isn’t he?”
     “Yip he’s a goodie and I like Bumblebee. He saves people and he’s cool.”
     “So you’ve seen the Transformers movie then?” says I, thinking why would a four year old be watching a movie like that? He must have older brothers. The most action my daughter gets to see on TV is Diego saving animals. Not much common ground with Ryan then.
     Ryan carries on detailing the whole of Transformers then says, “Hey, you could come round to my house and watch it with me then you can see it! Do you have a TV? Don’t worry, I’ll give you my one in the bedroom. My dad won’t mind.”
     Hmm, definitely older brothers. Fantastic. In my attempt to help my daughter make friends, I now have a pal called Oliver who likes to make me play dough cookies and been asked out on a date with Ryan to watch Transformers.
    Kisena friends, nil. All because I thought I’d help. Maybe in that situation I should have taken a back seat and left her to it. What situations then is it good to step in?
     Take husbands. When he’s changing the baby’s nappy and I can tell he is putting it on backwards, do NOT step in. He hardly ever changes the nappies and if I open my mouth he will step back and probably not change another nappy until the next blue moon.
     But when hubby has hung out all the washing while I’m in the shower and then I discover he has hung all the dirty washing, step in. I had changed laundry baskets so, to be fair, I had mixed things up a bit. (When questioned he said he did think it was rather strange they were just a bit damp and the washing powder can’t have worked very well because there were still food marks on them). That is definitely a time to step in, otherwise we would all be smelling of eau de dried banana.
     With my children the line is blurry. Do I step in and help or leave them to it? Should I let them grow up and be a little more independent even if it means a bit of emotional pain (not just for them)?
     So much of motherhood is trial and error mixed with instinct. I would hate to be an overbearing mother but I don’t want them to feel like they are left alone on an island with no lifeboat.
     Although as a mum I guess that’s what we are here for, to throw them a lifesaver ring or send them a lifeboat when they need us. I guess I can’t swim beside my daughter buoying her up forever.
     Will my daughter make friends okay? What sort of qualities will she look for? Of course, if it was me choosing, then any new friend would be a child who obeyed her parents, ate her vegetables every night with no complaint and didn’t pick her nose.
     Will she be a good friend herself? She came home at the end of the following week extremely excited. She had a new best friend — a Lucy Hanson.
     “So why do you like Lucy so much, Kisena?”
     “’Cos she’s pretty.”



Laura-Rose Ilkiw is lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mum to her children aged four and two. She’s learnt to relax on the kindy friend front as kids tend to change friends as often as their undies. She lives in the city of orange cones, broken homes and resilient smiles — Christchurch.



As seen in OHbaby! magazine Issue 21: 2013
 Issue 21Cover 100
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