This week, I drove a carload of kids to our local cultural centre for a school field trip. As I was getting the booster seats in place, the kids started jockeying for seating position. My daughter shouted, “Paige, come sit next to me!” “Ok!” answered Paige, “Because I’m your best friend!” And so, the best friends sat next to each other.
Earlier in the week, the same daughter and I were negotiating invites to her upcoming birthday party. One by one, my daughter enthusiastically told me that she would have to invite each girl in her class, because she was her best friend. This insistence, the identification of all her friends as equal, left me feeling melancholy.
It’s just so nice and simple at this age. They are not quite seven. They are all best friends.
I know it won’t always be this way. I know that the politics of friendship will soon start to rear its ugly head, and that the notion of who is—and who is not—a very best friend will change more often than the seasons. Hell, if memory serves me right, she could change best friends more often than she changes her socks.
The BFF thing leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I can remember my very first best friend fondly; she was my schoolmate and my neighbour, and our parents were also best friends. But I changed schools after Grade 2, and a shared street address was not enough to maintain our BFF-dom. From then on, I seemed to roam mainly in small packs, and when your group is of three or four, it’s dangerous and unfair to claim a BFF. Even still, there were times when each of us felt left out, hurt, rejected.
The claim of a best friend can be used to alienate others as surely as it can be used to show affection.
The only other time in my life that I had a BFF was as an adult. A friendship from high school bloomed only afterwards into a relationship that I depended on, cherished, and shared for almost 20 years. And then, two years ago, it imploded.
And whether you’re seven or 37, it still feels terrible. I know I can’t shield my daughter from the hurt that friendships can cause, so I’ll just allow her to invite all the girls in her class to her party, and encourage her to enjoy and respect each of those best friends now, before they all realize how powerful those words can be.
Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.
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