Friday, May 21

Teaching Friendship

Today was the boys' field day for their once-a-week class.  J had to say good-bye to friends because he won't be in that program next year.  He had his yearbook in hand and I know he hoped to fill it with signatures.  But, rather than say, "See ya later," when all the planned activities were over, he chose to just leave.  I don't blame him.  Saying, "Good-bye" stinks. 

To him, though, this is just how it is; you get to know kids for a short while and then you have to leave them.  He's had to say good-bye to friends just about every year since he was five and it pulls on me everytime.  His dad met his best friend when he was in second grade.  They have a long history and I think it's an amazingly rare kind of relationship.  I made two big moves in my own young life and so I know what it means to break ties again and again.  But I still keep in touch with some friends from middle school and I just recently found my "best friend in fifth grade" on Facebook.  However, J has never even had the opportunity to really dig in and know a person long-term. 

Teaching your kids the art of true friend-making is difficult, particularly since we've moved five times in the past six years.  We've been extremely active in all kinds of groups, classes, sports, and activities.  In one location, ours was the house in the neighborhood that was the most fun to play at.  Inviting friends into our lives has never been an issue.  Its the keeping that we want to do now. 

Friendships take a long time to build, especially when you're young and your personality and values are still embryonic. My hope is that he is now in the right geographical and emotional place to do this in a deeper way.  I hope that he finds new friends at his new school that he can know forever. I hope that he can begin to let down the guard of "I'm always the new kid" and give this next experience a good, solid shot. I hope that he continues to pursue the relationships that he's already begun and takes the time to recognize the value of letting your life story mix in with others.   Because if it's up to me (and I know it isn't) I'm not going to move him anywhere, ever again.  

But if he's going to do this, he needs to see me doing it first.  I left the field day today feeling like that group of people wasn't my community and today I remain as un-invested in it as I was on the first day last September. There are other places and people where I choose to invest my time and he sees that, but I had a chance for my community and my son's community to intersect and I didn't take advantage of it.  That was foolish.

So, you can bet, that next year I'll be the best room-mom I can possibly be. I'll be more intentional about creating circles that intersect with his.  And the relationships that we pursue, thrive or fail, will be formative and enriching if we're both open to the possibility that lies ahead of us.

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