When we moved into this neighborhood, we couldn’t have known what awaited us, just across the street. If we had been able to include neighbor profiles in our search criteria, I couldn’t have imagined better. A family with a daughter, just a few months younger than our oldest? How perfect!
Now, hardly a day goes by without these girls yelling out windows, running into open garages, insisting on playdates. They yell through the street, Best Friends Forever!!! and hug and fight and grapple their way through each playtime. No matter how much tattling has happened or how many times feelings were hurt, we always leave with a massive bear hug and the declaration of Best Friends Forever!
I’ve never experienced a childhood best friend. Across the street from our house was a church parking lot and a kind old lady who collected elephant figurines. There were a few kids who I played with in our neighborhood, but no one who would count as a best friend; no one who I felt comfortable—or welcome—to run into their house at any time.
My view of friendship is more seasonal. I have my college friends, but all of us dispersed to different corners of the globe. I have a small handful of friends from middle school and high school. Through the magic of Facebook, I still keep up with friends from camp or other short-term experiences. But a best friend forever? That is totally outside my experience.
The thing is, Bea and Ella Luna very well could be best friends forever. Neither of our families have jobs that cause us to move or dreams that include taking us away from our suburban cul-de-sac. Of course, life happens and is often unplanned, but for now, I can totally see these four-year-olds being friends in twenty years.
Watching them play makes me wish for more transparent friendships. Ones where I’m not embarrassed to say, You hurt my feelings, please apologize or I don’t want to do that. Let’s try my idea instead. (These phrases are highly edited for clarity and politeness.) For as socially inept as four-year-olds can be, they are also brutally honest and I wonder if that honesty is what keeps their friendships strong.
How would my own friendships look if I was able to not only express my feelings, but to forgive and forget easily? How would my relationships strengthen if we were able to end each get-together with massive hugs and declarations of love and acceptance?
I’m trying to find ways to be more like my daughter and her friends. I’m learning to be more open with my communication—from compliments to questions. I’m learning to tell my friends how and why they are special and that I appreciate and love them. I’m learning that people don’t end a friendship because I’ve told them how important their presence is in my life.
Perhaps I’ll never get to a place of giving a massive bear hug at the end of a dinner party, declaring Best Friends Forever! But I am learning to acknowledge the deep importance of the friends who are in my life. And who knows? Perhaps those acknowledgments will lead to more forever friendships.
What types of friendships do you have? Are you more of a seasonal friend or is your core group filled with forever friends?
Thanks to Annie Rim for starting off our mini series on friendship this summer. Annie is a writer, mother and educator who blogs regularly at annierim.wordpress.com You can also connect with her @annie_rim and on Instagram at Annie_Rim