Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making (and keeping) Friends

Yesterday afternoon I had this innocent but upon further reflection perplexing conversation with my oldest who is starting Kindergarten at a new school:

"So, did you make any new friends today?"

"Her name is Kara."

"Well, that's nice. What did you do with Kara."

"I ran around with her.... and, I asked her to be my friend, and she said no."

"Well, that's too bad."

"And she's my BEST friend!"

Obviously, conversations at this age are all generally a bit perplexing. But some background info. Before my girls went off to their new big bad public school 2 weeks ago, we did some innocent role playing on how to approach a new friend, how to ask if you can play with them, how to ask them their name and introduce yourself. Seems simple enough. My kids have been in school before, but this was the first change where they were old enough to have nerves or a sense of unease, so I figured I would give them the cliff note version on making friends. Be nice. Be polite. Ask to participate. Ask to share. These have always worked well for me, in any case.

My conversation with my oldest diverged into my monologue that went something like this:

"Well honey, if she said no to being your friend, all you can do is continue to be nice, keep being her friend, and maybe she will just naturally become your friend without having to ask."

This all made me a bit sad as you can imagine. Every parent wants their kid to be accepted and liked. I don't want my kids to be the homecoming queens, but just a nice decent circle of stable friends would be good. Of course, this made me wonder about me, about how I've made and kept friends over the years. Will my kids see in me a good friend to my friends? What have they learned from my behavior about friendship that will be a model for them? This train of thought made me even a bit sadder...

At times with certain people, I've been a good friend. I am brutally honest, and probably self absorbed, and I don't reach out, and I forget stuff, and so, yeah... basically not a great friend. My best friend is my hubby and that is probably (and should be) the relationship I nurture the most. But even there, I am lacking. I am not romantic or giving. I take, and I give... most I give in ways that are easy or please me. Girlfriends are harder. I've always gravitated to a small circle of friends but I've moved (literally) so much, that a budding friendship in NH, or MN, or WI... well it always ended before it began. Add to that my inability to reach out when I am feeling the most alone, and voila! The perfect recipe for not a great deal of friends.

I think about the people in my life, the closest friends I have known the longest, and they're usually the ones that have made an effort to see me over the years. I am forever thankful for that effort. Time, money, babies, have prevented me from taking the affirmative in maintaining the conversation..  and then I wonder: maybe it isn't just me. Maybe we all are losing our ability to make friends?

It really is all a conversation. Maybe my blogs, and posts, and random Internet musing are a way of just putting it out there for anyone that is listening. Maybe following the advice I gave Miss XJ: just being out there and friendly, and maybe my friend will just become my friend without having to ask. Maybe it is easier this way, cause I'm lazy, and well... you get my point.

If there is anything redeeming about the recent discussions of friendship we've been having, it is this. My youngest, upon discovering Claire's at the mall this weekend, happened upon a Doc McStuffins Best Friends necklace. Hubby explained what it was, why there were two necklaces, and what "Besties" were. Miss P declared (not surprisingly) that she wanted the necklace.

"Who do you want to give the second necklace to?"

"My sister."

Seems maybe we are getting some things right.