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Moving Day: What To Tell A Pre-Schooler When His Friend Moves Far Away

Our friends from our building are moving home to Ohio today. I am happy for them, because I know how much they miss their families and want their two-year-old, daughter, Riley to have close-knit relationships with her grandparents, but I’m admittedly bummed because I got really used to them. So did JD. And who will fix my garbage disposal when it breaks? (Ha!)

We met last summer at the pool. JD was racing a Matchbox car along the edge of the pool and I was hovering right next to him because I was scared he was going to fall into the pool (even though he had his vest on). Dustin was hanging on the edge coaxing Riley over to the water, but she was hanging back on a lounge chair with her mom, Megan. Soon JD and Dustin were playing with the car and I was chatting with Meg. Friendships were born.

As a single parent, it is so awesome to have parent friends not only for support—but company. Days can get long when you’re doing it alone, but not so much when you invite your friends over for Chinese takeout and a Toy Story 3 screening (something we all did recently.) We’ve also gone bowling, to the NJ Children’s Museum and indoor playgrounds. Last Friday I got a text from Meg to meet at the park after I picked JD up from school. It was high sixties and sunny. We played until dusk, then went to a Mexican restaurant. I’ll really miss these days!

Yesterday, we hung out in our building’s courtyard one last time. JD and Riley chased each other and kicked a ball back-and-forth. It was sunny and bitter-sweet. Next, Dustin gave his little bud, JD, the thrill, THRILL, of a lifetime. He showed him the big, yellow moving truck he rented to drive to Ohio. My kid went bonkers.

Riley’s grandma, Jessie, was in town helping to pack up and asked me if I told JD that Riley was moving. I did—last night over dinner with my mom. I’ve been engulfed in research and on the phone with top child psychologists for a big feature I’m writing that is coming out in Parenting’s June issue (stay tuned). I learned enough to know that telling JD something like this in advance (say last week or prior) would cause anxiety to him. I know that his cognitive skills, like all three-year-olds, are developed to a point where he’ll take things at face value and from his point-of-view only. When I told him last night over chicken cutlets, broccoli and cavatelli that Riley was moving, he asked why, of course. I said, "because Dustin got a new job and it’s far away. But they will always be our friends and we’ll see pictures of them on the computer and maybe even visit the great state of Ohio this summer." “OK,” JD said. “Can I have ketchup for my chicken.” My mom got up and got the ketchup.

Lots of luck and love to my friends—and safe travels. See you on Facebook and hopefully this summer.

Have any of your close friends moved on? How did you feel? What did you tell your kids?

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