Peter has always been fascinated by amusement parks. He loves going fast on roller coasters and feasting on a sweet or salty treat or two, so I was not surprised when he was looking forward to our trip to Hershey Park.
I was surprised when he was more concerned about some of the social aspects than he was about the rides and the chocolate. How many times would we get to see our friends? Were they coming with us to Hershey Park? Would they see us at the hotel again?
We visit family friends in Hershey—a magical connection where my family and my childhood friend MaryEllen’s family click like they have known each other forever. When we are with them Peter is not an outsider trying to figure out how to fit in.
Mary Ellen’s boys, Michael and Ryan, both a bit older than Peter, work hard to make Peter fit into the group. My girls always marvel that they do not have to do all the encouraging like they have to do so often when we are in groups of people.
Peter must feel the difference. He talks with the boys throwing around “guy talk.”
“Hey, man,” he said as he saw the first Schultze appear at the restaurant we met at the first night, almost making eye contact before he looked away with a shy smile. “How’s it going?”
During this trip, no one had to work very hard to keep Peter with the group. Peter became one of the leaders, telling people who would ride with whom, even mixing up the seating arrangements sometimes. Thank goodness, all the other kids were so happy to have Peter participating they often listened to his ideas. No one was sure how he would handle rejection of his new-found leadership.
Charlotte and Kit have told me about this social dynamic in the past. They said Peter is actually really funny when he starts to feel comfortable with someone. He still does his “Peters” as they call them. He asked when the Schultzes became family since the kids now call MaryEllen and Tim "aunt" and "uncle." He told MaryEllen she “still tasted like Pennsylvania” when he kissed her good-bye.
But the 'Peters' are part of who Peter is, rather than getting in the way of who he is. Slowly he is feeling comfortable being with people and that is definitely sweet.