E & M: Friends forever

I drop E off at nursery very early and I don’t usually pick her up so I have very little idea of how she spends her days or who she plays with each day, except what she tells me. We don’t know any other local families, with the exception of a friend I used to work with and her little boy, and although we go places where other children play at weekends, she often doesn’t mix easily. She gets on very well with her cousins but they live 175 miles away so we don’t see them very often.

Nursery is her main socialising time, and it’s weird knowing that she has this whole other world I have no idea about. It always has been strange, especially if I do get to see her in the nursery setting which happens sometimes. She’s picked up how they eat, how they should play, how they should behave. Recently she’s been re-enacting ‘circle time’ at home with her toys and with S and me, making us tell her what the day and month is, and going through everyone’s names.

Anyway, she’s always told us a few things about the other children but recently there’s been a shift in the friends she talks about and M is her best friend. She talks about M a lot. “M can jump like this, she can do this, I played with M today, I’ll show this to M, she’s my best friend.” It’s all very sweet but there’s a part of me that projects my worries onto this relationship. What if E likes M more than M likes her? Does M like her and talk about her?

And so we went to a different swimming pool in town on Friday. As we stood in the queue, a little girl a few places ahead turned, smiled and waved. I had no idea who she was but S said, “Oh look, it’s M!” M smiled again and told her grandma, “That’s E!” They were already in the pool when we got there. As soon as E got in, I realised we weren’t going to get much swimming practice done.

“E come here! E look at this! E can we touch toes! E play with the ball!” E was much more confident in the pool than she usually is, less clingy and striding out in the water, not worrying about or needing her armbands, which I was really pleased about. They giggled and shrieked together, and played and bounced and all sorts. When we all got out later, M took E’s hand and they walked to the changing rooms singing the alphabet, before M coaxed E into the shower very gently.

It was all really very sweet, and made E very happy. Together they made the schoolgirls and old ladies go gooey, and it took quite some doing to get to leave the pool. Luckily her love of lunch just edged it.

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