Until Tuesday, Rowan’s best friend at school was Robyn. Robyn with a Y not an I, as Rowan tells me, repeatedly. Robyn, who sits on the Q on the alphabet rug, right next to Rowan on the Y. Robyn, who we saw one time at the swimming pool with her mom and her baby brother. Robyn, who once showed up miraculously at the public library while Rowan was there and was all he talked about the rest of the day. “If we go to the library, will Robyn be there?” he now asks.
When I dropped him off at school a few mornings ago, Robyn was waiting for Rowan in the junior kindergarten courtyard. They stood, silent, facing each other in their snowsuits, smiling shyly, rapturously, for about a minute. Then they ran off to play together. And a little piece of me melted inside.
But yesterday, yesterday Robyn got mad at Rowan for pushing her. “But I didn’t push her,” he tells me. I am the recipient of enough flying hugs and inadvertent head butts to know that Rowan isn’t always necessarily aware of the degree to which his body, his actions, can affect others. I’m fairly sure he didn’t mean to push, and I have no doubt that she could have easily misinterpreted his clumsy puppy love.
In any case, Rowan is a bit forlorn. He told the story to me and to Rachel. He and his babysitter drew a picture for Robyn after school. And during last night’s bedtime story, when Rachel got to the line in It’s Okay to Be Different (which you should buy, by the way, and not only because it’s been banned by several uptight school boards) that reads, “It’s okay to make a wish,” he said, “I wish Robyn were my friend again.” I nearly cried when she told me that.
Internet (as Dooce would say), it’s taking a lot for me not to swoop in and fix this. All I wanted to do for a few minutes last night was to get hold of Robyn’s phone number and call her parents, explain the situation, and get the two of them back together. I wanted to write a note to their teacher, asking her to intervene, to make that little girl be friends with my little boy again. I imagined walking Rowan to school tomorrow, waiting for Robyn, and brokering the peace.
But I will do none of that. I will stand back and offer support judiciously, quietly, when asked or when it truly seems that Rowan is in over his head. I will let Rowan give his picture to Robyn himself. I will talk to him about his feelings. And I will see what happens. And I am sure that I will do the same thing over and over and over, when Rowan is 12, 14, 17, when his heart is broken and he broods silently in his room for hours, playing ballads on his guitar, writing bad existential poetry. Here’s my pledge: I will watch, and I will ache, and I will listen, and I will nod and cluck and — if permitted — hug. And I will not interfere.
But, man, it’s gonna be hard.