Friday 29 January 2016

Perplexing Playdate Planning

I've been trying to expand Nathan's circle of playdates, so that he has more than one or two friends he can call on.

Things are going relatively smoothly, but we've run into a challenge with a few of the families.  In retrospect, I should have predicted it: life keeps happening and plans get rescheduled.  

Now I don't have a problem with rescheduling on it's own.  Kids get sick, parents realize that there's a conflicting event, schedules have to be juggled.  But it's really hard on Nathan.

As he gets older, he's having more trouble when things aren't going the way he planned.  He was terrified and inconsolable when the car broke down.  He kept saying that we'd have to sleep in the car and we were going to freeze to death.  Now, I don't think that was actually what he was worried about.  I think his anxiety spiked at the change of plans and then he seized on an explanation for it.  (People with high levels of anxiety do this more often than you'd think, which is why trying to explain away the cause of the anxiety does nothing.)

Nathan gets quite upset when I have to tell him that a playdate he's been planning on (and they usually go onto the schedule a week in advance) is suddenly moved or cancelled.  He does adjust, but it leaves him more fragile for the day and less able to cope with any other unexpected challenges (and there are always some).

I'm not sure how to explain this to other parents.  They've got legitimate reasons for needing to reschedule and I don't want them to feel bad, or worse, decide to withdraw having their kids come over because they don't want to risk upsetting Nathan.

Nathan needs a predictable structure to his day and week.  I don't think it's at an unreasonable level (though we are working on resiliency and flexibility in the face of change, because life is change).  I don't want him to give up on having friends because the challenge of dealing with other people's schedules is too frustrating.

I'm tiptoeing through, trying to find the right balance of security and growth.  I guess all parents do that, but I certainly feel as if I'm teetering on an edge and Nathan is the one who will fall off if I get it wrong.

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