Our oldest didn't have many close friends in elementary. She was content racking up AR points in Reading at school, and then later at home doing photo shoots with her Pet Shop figures. She had a whole stash of them and they were her friends. Even though the typical elements of girl drama had began to impose themselves in fourth grade, she was still happy.
It was in middle school, after finding a few close friends, that she discovered how messy friendship can be. She experienced the backbiting and the sabotage that can go along with it in a time when girls can be so insecure. She learned that sometimes what you consider to be a close friendship, your friend may not value quite as much.
Having been burned by my own friendships, I went into combat with her.
- I constantly reminded her of the importance of being trustworthy and kind to everybody. This was good.
- In protective mode, I sabotaged some relationships that might have been mended by pointing out mistakes that she had made, or her friends had made, highlighting every rocky step. This was hurtful and graceless (I remember a year or two where the communication on her part lessened).
- I encouraged her to take the safe route; not to trust or tell secrets, reminding her, more than necessary, of the messiness of friendships. Being supremely choosy in friend -making (what may feel like the safest route), is pretty lonely and doesn't remove the possibility for disappointment and rejection. Maybe that was a bad idea.
- I prayed a specific prayer for her to have good friends; the kind you can trust to keep your secrets and to build you up, the kind who stick around. This was my best idea.
Had I only prayed and lightened up a little on my strategies besides prayer, I might have saved her from a little loneliness. One can't be sure.
Time may settle a matter but it doesn't always say how.
I do know that my years of praying, mixed with a mother's well-intended hit and miss advice, weren't in vain.
God answered those prayers with a group of girls as quirky as Hallie is. I have the pleasure of hanging out with some of them on Wednesdays before evening youth.
They sit around our table and laugh obnoxiously loud. They debate everything from the most delicate and heavy topics like sexual assault to the more light-hearted; whether or not Harambe should Rest In Peace. They get loud, but listen to one another. And they respect one another.
They've reminded me that friendship doesn't necessarily make for an easier growing up. Friendship can be risky. It's about imperfectly being there with each other and for each other through the thick of life.
Adventures are bigger and better with friends.