Matthew's best friend, Allen, started 1st grade this year and it's his first year of going all day. This has been a hard adjustment on Matthew. Allen has a younger brother, James, who is almost 4yrs and a baby sister. Rose and James have always had a lot in common just like Matthew and Allen so it's always been 'understood' that James is Rose's friend and Allen is Matthew's friend. [This background is important for the story.]
Matthew has been reading a lot of those Joy Berry Help Me Be Good books lately. I bought the set years ago but was a little disappointed when they showed up. So I shoved them away and didn't think much about them. But Matthew has unearthed them in our library in the playroom closet and has been reading through them. And I’m finding his recent explanations of his actions are getting quite…well-thought out.
Yesterday we had my buddy over and James and his baby sister. Allen was, of course, in school. Matthew had a very hard time playing with James and Rose. He was overly tempermental, bossy, wanted to play and then didn't want to play - nothing made him happy. I was bewildered at his behavior and secretly wondered if he was coming down sick (as is typically the case when he's having such a 'bad' day).
Last night we were snuggling before bed and he said, “Mommy, I’m a googleplex plus a googleplex plus a googleplex (and on and on for a while) sorry about my attitude with James today. I was really sad that Allen wasn’t here to play.” I thanked him for apologizing of his own free will and commended him on recognizing why he had a bad attitude about it. I also told him that Allen's mommy had emailed me and said that Allen was sad he missed seeing Matthew too. He immediately said, “Did you tell Allen that I didn’t play with James??”
I think he was worried that by playing with James, it would make Allen sad and so he didn’t want to play with James and upset his friend. I talked to him about the fact that while Allen was sad about it, I’m sure he understood Matthew playing with James and that he would want Matthew to be nice to his little brother and play with him.
This morning, he said out of the blue, “Mommy, I love Allen very very much.” I reminded him that we’d see Allen this week after school one day and again at James’ bday party in a couple weeks. He seemed happier about that but added, "I wish Allen was homeschooled!" Hubby and I looked at each other with a ???? expression for a second before I said, "Well you know Allen has fun at school and he likes to go. And I bet there are days he wishes you went to school (if you were in his district) so he could play with you at recess." He slowly agreed with me. "We'll just have to try to be more creative in finding time to spend with him and in the meantime, I hope you can play nicely with James next time we see them." He assured me he could.
It's so hard to see him struggling with missing his friend and harder still to see that he's so worried about Allen's feelings that he felt he was betraying his friend by playing with his brother. But I think his sensitivity to others feelings is a great attribute to his character.