When Nico was just past two, we ran into a five-year-old boy and his little brother at the playground down the street. The five-year-old was enamored of Nico and spent their whole visit talking to him and trying to get him to play. Nico positively lit up with joy at the attention, and I wrote in his monthly letter that I hoped he'd be as kind to little boys as this child when he became a big boy. And my wish came true - Nico loves babies and toddlers. He dotes on them, says hi and gently pats their heads, brings them toys, reads them books. One of our playdate-friend families now includes an 18-month-old girl and he has declared her his best baby friend. True, he's sometimes not as nice to his actual in-house brother as he is the other little kids, but I suppose that's to be expected. And he's usually mostly nice to Elliott, too.
We went down to the bigger playground on Friday for a bit. Toward the end of our time there, a mom and three older kids stopped by to swing for a while. I'm bad at judging tween kids' ages but I'd guess the oldest girl was around 8th grade, the middle boy was in 5th or 6th grade, and the younger girl was in 3rd or 4th grade. Elliott was climbing up into the play structure (which he calls the castle), going down the slide, and repeating, and he told the big kids, "Come on! Come in the castle!" The two younger big kids followed him up and down for a good ten minutes, and when their older sister and mom started encouraging them to leave, the boy lingered and lingered. He even came back to go down the slide one last time with Elliott after going to fetch his scooter and starting on his way home. My heart felt pretty full watching him lean down to tell Elliott, "Sorry, I have to go," while Elliott, a quarter his size, stood there solemnly staring at him with a finger in his nose. I sent out my fervent wish to the universe, please help me raise boys who will be kind enough to play with a toddler at the playground when they are eleven or twelve years old and on the cusp of being a teenager.