"Do you think he's home yet?"
"No. Give him ten more minutes."
"Can I see if he's home yet?"
"I'm sure he isn't. I said you need to wait ten minutes or so."
"Do you think he's there yet?"
"Can't you give him a few more minutes?"
There goes Second Child, out the door and on the way up the hill to see if his new friend (and fellow Pokemon aficionado) is home from school. We're happy about this friend, just moved in from California, whose family actually has chosen to live off base, unlike most of the military families here. He's a good kid and a good fit for ours, and I must say, we're thrilled to have an American boy for Second Child to play with, after two years of nobody. Sure, there have been street-soccer matches with a few Japanese boys nearby, but that just hasn't been enough. Second Child has had on-base friends, but most of them have stayed busy with the loads of other on-base kids, who roam the base playgrounds in packs. We know all about this; we lived on base for two years.
And then there's First Child, whose best friend moved in June, and will be moving again next year, and the year after that (military kids have to put up with a lot!). One reason we put both kids in school for a couple of hours in the mornings is so they might each make a couple of new friends; it's unfortunate that there are very few homeschoolers here, so those kinds of friendships have been few and far-between. Actually, I believe that a child really needs only a few good friends, and in fact, this is all most kids can handle. In June I read a wonderful book, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. I really believe this book should be required reading for parents--that's how strongly I feel about it. The authors, two Canadian doctors, talk about how kids are often pushed (by their parents!) into not being "shy" or "too weird"--imagine that: in a society as seemingly non-conformist as ours (the U.S. and Canada), here we are, telling our kids not to stand out! The authors also believe that rebellion against one's parents isn't unavoidable; rather, it's a sign that kids (often teens) have bonded too closely with their peers, who have in some ways practically replaced the parents. It's fascinating stuff, and there's much to learn about how peer attachment has created heaps of problems for much of the developed world.
Read it and be amazed. Then keep your kids as close as you can, for as long as you can. Of course, let them head up the street for that occasional Pokemon battle.