This morning, the children of a friend stayed for a bit while she had an appointment. It was no trouble – indeed, it made my life easier as her oldest boy and mine became good friends in kinder, her #2 and mine also shared a class and a friendship and her last sits comfortably between the ages of my littles. Other than the general chaos of nearly doubling the number of shoes and snacks in a house, having families to do this thing called life together makes for vast improvements.
As they were playing, H Boy politely asked his friend not to do something (I cannot remember what – it was pretty insignificant, about a toy I believe). And his friend listened. What struck me by the interaction was the courage and the confidence H had to ask his friend to change a behavior. Most adults cannot effectively do this and they waffle and wain over it for a few nights beforehand.
Yet the way his friend reacted, with nearly no troubled reaction at all, gave H the valuable feedback that it’s okay to talk to his friends. He can be honest. He can be himself without a fear of rejection.
Now that we’re venturing into new territory – a new community and new school, which means new friends – I’m beyond grateful for these early friendships. My children have had the opportunity to practice the skills of making and keeping friends, treating others with love and respect, in a safe community of like-minded people. Of course, not everyone is the same, but in general, those with whom we shared classrooms and lunches and park dates had a value structure that reinforced our own.
These friends set the bar high. My hope is that my kids will enter new territory knowing they are worthy of quality friendships. Of course, this isn’t a foolproof plan. Friendships early in life, much like in adulthood, can be willy nilly. We get upset over small (and big) things. We hurt feelings, we exclude, we compete instead of complement. But the fact remains, once you taste filet mignon, you can tell the difference between that and a hamburger. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy a hamburger. You just know the difference between The Pine Club and Red Robin.
One of the most beautiful gifts we can give our children is the art of friendship. Part of this is by putting them beside good people who exhibit qualities of good friends. Another part of that is modeling – being a good friend to those we love. Thank you, Troy, Ohio, USA for giving me the opportunity to do both.