Childhood friendships. To adults, friends may be fine feathered or fair weathered. But kids have funny answers that really give adults a life lesson on the true meaning of friendship. It makes perfect sense that they are more the experts than we are.
Our kids do have a hands-on, well-researched process for figuring out what makes a friend. Contrary to most choices they make that are often spur of the moment, kids decisions about friends are usually both their major and minor subjects at school.
For adults, a friend would hardly be the topic of the day. But to 7-year olds, friends are their daily priority. If you ask a kid, “what did you do at school today?” you already know the answer will be, “nothing, I don’t remember, same old boring thing.”
But ask the question “who was your friend today?” and you can be sure to get a play-by-play recount, complete with sound effects and dramatic renditions. A 7-year-old won’t remember the procedures he or she learned on how to borrow a ten in a subtraction problem.
He or she, however, will give you a step by step story on how a group of friends subtracted one person from their roster of friends for the day because of a problem with slow running.
Sugar and spice is nice
The first lesson a 7-year old will teach about friendship is that the matter of friends varies with gender. There is a big difference between girl friends and boy friends. That is, boys who are friends, which may or may not be the same thing as boyfriends — even at this age!
Girls who are friends are cute. “Cute!” I shout in amazement. “What happened to Dora and Word Girl, or Uniqua? Wouldn’t your friends be standing tall as leaders, explorers, and adventurers like them?” No, cute is the optimal word for friends. Cute is sassy, beautiful, small, and skinny.
I am given an illustrative example. Maria is so cute and small there is nothing to her belly so it looks like a sucked-in hole in the middle. Cute is like Stephanie who has a nice ponytail and a headband and jewelry to match. Her clothes are not fat but they fit nice and small.
At recess, Dailin and Sierra can make fluffy eyes at the boys. They can blink fast and do a cute voice like iCarly. I can’t help but shrug my shoulders at how the era of Wonder Woman ended up.
Wasn’t Justin your boyfriend?
Next comes a lesson on boys. I imagine that if the girls are cute, there must be a handsome prince, or a knight on the white horse – brave and strong. Or maybe boys who are friends are smart. But, it seems that I am totally a dunce about boys. I am instructed with examples.
She recounts that Jacob is smart, but when he went down on his behavior chart he didn’t want to play monster with the girls. And Justin tells stories about how he can jump up to the sky. But she’s not sure she can believe it. That critique could make any male pride drop to the ground, I think.
Our 7-year old continues on with her lesson. “Now take Gavin and Samuel. They love to play jail with the girls. They’re the bad men. We can take those boys and push them to the wall and trap them so they can’t get out. Gavin growls and makes scary faces. Boys who are friends are weird. They’re “weirdoes.”
Good friends last a lifetime – or do they?
Now I am ready for my next installment on the levels of friends. There are just friends, BF’s, BFF’s and a BFFL.
A 7-year old can, at any time or any place, say to a BF (Best Friend), or a BFF (Best Friend Forever) “I’m not your friend.” This is not the tragedy one might think it could be. Stephanie and Lailee are both BF’s and BFF’s.
This afternoon they are rolling and tumbling in the grass, giggling and laughing as one rolls on top of the other and elbows fly into mouths and dirt into eyes.
Suddenly, Stephanie jumps up and walks away saying, “I’m tired I need to rest.” Lailee shouts and stamps, “well, I’m not your friend.” They retire to separate ends of the playground. Stephanie does 2 swings; Lailee goes down 1 slide.
They both walk over to opposite ends of the tunnel. One peeks in at the other and smiles. The other also takes a peek and smiles back. There is laughter, hugs, and BF’s and BFF’s endured.
The final lesson left is the latest list to the growing alphabet. What in the world is a BFFL? I should have learned by now, ask a silly question, get some funny answers. “That’s Sarah. She is my Best Friend Forever for Life. That means she’s my best friend for the longest time of all, a whole week!”
Good times last a lot longer when you’re with a BFFL.