Monday, April 14, 2014

A Real Play Date

Our son’s therapist at school told my wife about a boy in Kai’s class that he is friends with at school. She thought that this boy, E, was a good match for a play date for Kai.

It has been a long time since we’ve matched Kai up with another child on a play date.

There are challenges, not the least of which is that Kai’s school draws kids from more than a dozen different suburbs so most of his classmates do not live in our neighborhood. E lives two towns over, about a 45 minute round trip away. So it’s not like Kai can just walk home from school with him or stroll over to visit any time he wants.

But it is not just the distance that is a factor.

For what seemed the longest time, Kai did not really play with other kids. Most play dates we set up for Kai when he was younger involved him doing his thing while the other child did their thing. It was mostly parallel play, with a minimal amount of interaction.

More recently we learned from the staff at his school that Kai does interact with other children. And we did try to set up the occasional play date, to varying degrees of success. But it’s hard to find another child who shares the same interests as Kai. And Kai never expressed wanting to have another classmate over to the house.

His mom and I have been his only playmates outside of school. And while it is nice to have that bond with our son, we want Kai to have a friend besides us, or at the very least, the capability to have friends.

And so we decided to pursue a play date with E.

My wife invited the boy over, communicating through staff at school and E’s sister as E’s parents do not speak much English.

This past Friday was the big day. I think I was more excited, and anxious, about it than Kai was.

I repeatedly told him to be nice to E and to play with him.

“Yessssss” Kai groaned, tired of hearing me.

My wife told me that the E would come to our house with Kai after school, they would play for about three hours, have dinner with us, and then she would drive him home.

That seemed like a really long time. I was sure my wife would stress out trying to keep them occupied for that long.

So I was surprised when I called her after work and found out that they had been playing nicely.

My wife told me how they played “kendo” for a while in the backyard using fallen tree branches as the proxy for Japanese bamboo swords.

Then they came inside and raced some vehicles as they made a makeshift track out of books and other things.

Finally, they played Wii.

When I got home, they were having dinner. And then after dinner I joined them on the Wii for a game of Mario Kart. I got to see the boys really talking to each other and interacting. In most homes, that is nothing unusual, but it was a beautiful sight for us.

By the time we all dropped E home at his house, the boys had been together for nearly five hours. There were no incidents; it was all just fun.

Kai said he had a good time. So we will definitely want to do this again.

Two kids playing. Something most parents can take for granted.

But for us, it is another big sign of progress.


  1. Wonderful, wonderful!!! This was something I dearly missed in the difference between Taylor and his friends and then the triplets without any friends. I'm so happy for's so important and a great way to develop social skills. And it gives you a break in not having to be the entertainer all the time! :) Here's to many more happy play dates! :)

    1. I don't know if my wife got to relax at all as she wanted to monitor how things were going, but it is certainly nice to not have to be his playmate for a change. Kai has come a long way with his social skills, and I'm glad to see that he has made progress with socializing with other kids as he has with adults.

  2. Kai is maturing well in a lot of areas. This important area seems to be going well for Kai. Hiccups are to be expected, but it is how he normally behaves which tells the most.

    1. Yes, the problems tend to be more the exception than the norm these days which is very good.


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