Life would be very dull without friends. Some families seem content to be pretty much unto themselves. But not a lot of the rest of us realize how important our children’s friends are to them. I’m continuously surprised at their capacity for making friends, even after all these years of working with toddlers.
What is a friend? My list is: Someone who you can have fun with; someone you can trust to not hurt your feelings – on purpose; and someone who is available often enough, so that you both feel you have a real and consistent connection. That’s about it.
As I write, I am on my way to a birthday celebration for my friend Eleanor. She will be 95 in a few days. She is 93 years older than the little people I spend my weekday mornings with! Our connection can be traced back to the 1930s, when her mother, Lucille (“Lu-Lu”), and my maternal grandmother, Frances, met as head trimmer and head fitter – first at Henri Bendel and then at Saks Fifth Avenue. They were both single mothers, each had one daughter, and they were both struggling financially. Their friendship lasted about 20 years, until my grandmother’s death in 1956.
Eleanor is a great example of someone who has kept in touch – and not just on a superficial level – with many people over the years. Her 95th birthday party will be attended by most of the people closest to her. She and I are very special links for each other to our own pasts.
Our “rules” regarding friendship don’t change much. I see it in Eleanor, and I see it in the two- and three-year-olds I’ve worked with for 26 (going on 27!) years.
I love how, even a child as young as two (sometimes younger), can connect with another child – so quickly! Within minutes they can be laughing and holding hands. If it doesn’t feel right at any point, they will simply stop playing together. Children are constant reminders for all of us to live in the moment.