Bud has a friend.
Clay is a boy in his Kindergarten class. We met Clay at the open house the day before school started, and since his was the name I remembered it was the one I used as we prepared for the first day of school. "And you'll play on the playground with your teacher and the other kids, like Clay..."
Every day after school we have walked from the classroom to the car at about the same time as Clay and his mom. And every day I have prompted Bud to say goodbye to Clay by name. We did this throughout Bud's two and a half years of preschool with a myriad of other children, so it never occurred to me that anything special was happening.
Bud did talk about Clay at home, though. When I asked who he liked at school he named his teacher, then his aide, then Clay. When I asked who he played with, he named his teacher, then his aide, then Clay. Last week he told me he wanted Clay to come and play at Bud's house. But I sort of thought Bud was just trying to give me the "right" answer when I asked a question.
Yesterday as we were leaving school, Bud - because he has the very sweet habit of ALWAYS telling on himself - announced "I can take it home with me!", which prompted me to frisk him and find each one of his pockets stuffed with toy fruit from the classroom. We headed back to the classroom to return the contraband, then I spent some time chatting with Bud's teacher. It was about 15 minutes later when we finally headed back to the parking lot.
As we approached I saw that Clay was sitting on the lawn by our car, and I heard him say "Mom! Here he comes!"
Clay's mom got out of the car and said to me, "Clay insisted that we couldn't leave until he said goodbye to Bud." They had waited 15 minutes, with Clay's mom wondering if we had walked to an appointment somewhere, and with Clay steadfast in his resolve to wait us out.
Bud gave Clay a high five, and they both said goodbye and climbed into their respective cars. It took every ounce of restraint I had to keep from scooping Clay up and smothering him with kisses.
Clay likes Bud. No one told him he had to. No one even suggested that he should. He just likes Bud. He likes Bud for Bud.
Bud has a friend.