It was a gorgeous Sunday and the boys had just gotten hair cuts. The next step was to go to the grocery store but our plans made a left turn and we ended up at the neighbourhood pool.
I wasn’t at all sure how Jay would like it. He’s been tentative about water play so far this summer and it took him a long time to even let the sprinklers at the park wet him.
Last year at the pool, Jay refused to take his shirt off. He also refused to take his shoes off and spent most of the time chasing butterflies and eating snacks. I would’ve been OK if he did that again this year. As long as he’s safe I’m OK with whatever makes my boy happy. I no longer put my own expectations on him. *How far I’ve come*
Once we got to the pool, Ace found some friends of his from the Boys & Girls Club so he was off and splashing. Jay, following Ace’s lead, took off his shirt and shoes. My eyes got wide but I try not to make a big deal about him doing new things so I just acted like this was all normal. I don’t want him to be self conscious about me taking in Every.Little.Thing.He.Does. He then walked gingerly into the pool. He quite happily got his legs and arms wet but didn’t seem keen on getting his torso wet. He did get splashed by other kids and although he looked annoyed by it, he didn’t cry or leave the area. (Later in the day he got fully wet. That could be a post by itself.)
All was going well … But then … Something happened.
Something amazing that tore me in 2.
Jay wanted to play with Ace. He tried so hard to follow Ace around and do the things that Ace was doing. But Ace was busy with his friends and didn’t want to be slowed down by or tethered to his little brother. He didn’t want to have to stay in the shallow section when he is tall enough to go to the 3 ½ Ft area. I asked him once to spend a little time playing with Jay in the shallow part, but he really didn’t want to and I felt bad asking him to, so I told him it was OK, he didn’t have to. So off he dove to re-join his friends.
It’s so great to see Jay WANT to play with Ace. We spend so much time working on social interraction and cooperative play that I love seeing it translated this way. I want to encourage Jay to keep opening up like this. I want him to reap the rewards of his hard work and not get ignored when he tries.
But it’s not fair to ask Ace to sacrifice his time with his friends.
Eventually both boys found a way to have their own fun and when it was time to leave, neither of them were ready so that’s a good sign. Usually we leave a place because one of the kids has begun to get fussy. There was none of that at the pool. Just total happiness.
When we got home, my 2 sons played together for the entire rest of the evening and I loved seeing that.
More and more Jay is looking up to and is wanting to be like his older brother. But as that is happening, Ace is making his own friends and forging his own way through life. It’s clear that Ace loves his brother but I know he can’t live for his brother.
I am torn between feeling happy that Jay is reaching out … and enjoying seeing Ace grow up … and wanting to give Jay whatever he wants since I know it hasn’t come easy for him … but knowing I can’t put that job on Ace’s shoulders.