I thought we'd have a few years before we started to go through this kind of thing, and I didn't think that watching it happen would make me so sad for Charlie.
The backstory: We live in a neighborhood with lots and lots and lots of kids. Great, right? Well, yes and no. Most of the kids are 2+ years older than Charlie. That doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're talking about the abilities of a 5-year-old compared to the abilities of a 3-year-old, it's night and day. There are a few who are only a year older, but they're all girls.
Charlie's neighborhood BFF is a 4-year-old girl (L), who lives across the street. They've been good buddies for a good year now, and Charlie and I are friends with the parents, so it works out quite nicely. Or worked out nicely, anyway. Lainey has reached the stage where the slightly older neighborhood girls make more appealing playmates than the little boy across the street. I totally get that, really, I do. And there's nothing wrong with it. But as the mom of said boy, it just makes me sad.
Yesterday afternoon we were cleaning up, and Charlie was standing at the window checking out the action on our street. L finally came outside to play, and Charlie was beside himself with excitement. "Mommommommommommommom, L is outside! Can we play? Can we play?" So we got shoes on and headed out to play. Charlie ran across the street to see her, but when he got there he was stopped by a 5-year-old girl (J), who told him that he wasn't allowed to play with them, because it was "girls-only time."
Poor Charlie was so disappointed. I mean, what do you even say to that? You can't force L to play with him if she doesn't want to. She's at the age where whatever the bigger girls say is gospel, so of course she joined in, "Yeah, Charlie, it's girls ONLY! You can't play with me right now."
I tried to get him to play with me, instead, but he wasn't really interested after that. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I wanted to stick my tongue out at J and tell her that Charlie didn't want to play with her, anyway, but then that would just make me the crazy lady.