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Single White Preschooler

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Do your kids ever get obsessed with their friends? Do you think it’s cute or a little...pathetic? 

Alex likes all the kids in his class as far as I can tell but there are a few he talks about all the time. I will not name names in case any of the moms read this blog (don’t want them thinking they have a Stage Five Clinger on their hands with Al). And it’s not just that he likes them, he wants to be like them. He wants to have the same lunch, the same shoes, the same freakin’ pillow pet. He has to spike his hair a certain way because they do and he recently told me he couldn’t wear a super-cute Crewcuts shirt I’d bought him because his friends wouldn’t think he looked cool. Ugh.


Most of Alex’s friend-obsession centers on one kid. I don’t know this kid or his parents or really anything about him except his name (we’ll call him George) and the fact that he likes fruit roll ups. A lot. So much so that on Alex’s class snack day after he begged and pleaded (in a non-annoying, I’m-just-making-a-case-here-mom way), I made an exception and sent him in with 25 fruits by the foot—not the kind of snack I usually offer up (I also sent a big bag of organic grapes to offset my sugar/chemical guilt). This does not mean I will be buying Alex beer when he’s in high school so he can impress his friends, but the four-year-old version felt harmless and it was nice to send him in super excited about his snack (apple slices and Annie’s cheddar bunnies just don’t do that). And I know his little man crush is harmless. Right?


The other day, he said, “Mom, can you call me George?” And for the next few hours he only answered to this kid’s name. I love how much Alex likes to use his imagination and pretend play (this week alone he’s been a chef, Lionel Messi and a dog named dog) but it was definitely getting a little SWP. He also tells me at least once a day that he thinks he saw George’s dad or “Hey look mom, that car looks just like George’s dad’s car.” How does he know what George’s dad’s car looks like? I guess the nice thing to do would be to try to make a playdate with this kid. But I already looked him up on the class list and he won’t be going to same school as Alex next year so the lazy mom in me thinks why bother? Plus, Alex has never actually asked to have a playdate with the kid. I think he just really likes to talk about him.


I just hope the other kid likes Al back, you know? There’s nothing worse than unrequited friend love. I know that Alex is well liked so I don’t worry about it too much. There is a gaggle of boys who swarm around him at drop-off. He even has him own SWP. On “yellow day” a few weeks ago, this kid got super excited and ran over to Alex when we walked in the door because he saw that Alex was wearing the same shirt as him. The teacher whispered to me that the kid had purposely worn that shirt and had been really hoping Alex would wear his, too. It was super cute.


I think this kind of behavior is totally normal. And I love that Alex loves his friends and has kids who seem to love him, too. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel a tad sad for Alex—like, c’mon dude quit sweating this kid. He can’t be that cool! And I also have to wonder if it has to do with his young age—Alex loves older kids—and if this scenario will follow him through life because he's always going to be young for his grade. Do your kids have friend obsessions? What do you think about them? Right now Nora talks a lot about her friend Lo Lo, who she says lives in New York City. She talks to her on her pretend phone a lot and even told me she had to email her the other day. I believe there’s a Lo Lo in her class but she does not live in New York City. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t email yet.