We don't have too many of these--days where I feel productive, get things done as planned, and actually get to add in something "fun." After getting through my list of things to do this morning, I realized both of the older kids were diligently working on their schoolwork and might actually get through today's work. By the time we had to pick up Pollito, Two year old Milagro was also playing nicely by herself and had asked to go to the park no less than half a dozen times:
"I go to park mom?"
"Mom, we go to park today?"
"Mom, get in car and go to park?"
"I take my ball to park today mom?"
What was melting my heart was that each time I said "not right now" or "I don't know" she would sweetly respond with "ok, mom" and go off to entertain herself. The last time she asked she said "Mom, you want to go play in the park with me?" How could I resist? Well, actually I could think of countless reasons why that wasn't a good idea for the rest of the crew but I really wanted to do this for her. It was a beautiful day with 70 degree weather and the sun was shining.
So after picking up Pollito and dropping off his classmate I got into a conversation with the mom and mentioned we might go to the park. She quickly asked if they could join us and I thought "why not?" This mom has been the only person in Pollito's class who I have "befriended" and I have ducked out on invites to her home a few times mostly because of the reasons most of us avoid public places with unpredictable kids. We met at the park and the kids all did extremely well. She and I got a chance to talk and it turns out her 5 year old has sensory issues and she (the mom) spent a good part of her formative years in foster care. I had an absolutely wonderful time getting to talk with another adult and although Corazon worked pretty hard to get into our conversation a few times even she managed to relax and let us visit. I was really struck by how young developmentally Tortuga is. He spent the bulk of the time playing with Pollito and his classmate, plus his 4 year old brother. The 5 year olds taught him a game they made up and Tortuga couldn't have been happier!
As we were getting into the car he smiled and declared "Mom! I have two new friends!" I smiled back and once again marvelled at how much this kid has missed out on. I also realized just how little difference there had been between the boys' behaviors despite Tortuga being twice their ages (he will be 11 in a few months!) It's so hard to balance the gaps sometimes. He is emotionally/developmentally at their age yet academically he is closer to a 4th/5th grader and cognitively probably somewhere in between although he has many of the "experiences" and language of a "bigger" boy. He doesn't have any of the filters other kids would have to recognize that these were "little" boys and not peers. I had already checked him in the car several times when Pollito's friend gets in after school because I immediately have the three of them in the back of the van playing around like 5 year olds with no regard for safety or size or sense of appropriateness.
Anyway, I have to think more about how to help Tortuga bridge these gaps. We ended our evening by meeting up with my sister and going out to dinner at one of the kids' favorite restaurants. It was a nice end to what turned out to be a pretty ordinary day.