You’ve Got A Friend In Me
Being a kid is complicated.
Sure, it isn’t complicated in the way being CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation is, but it is still a dance and I think grown-ups forget that. When you are a kid, you literally have to learn EVERYTHING about being real person in a very mean world.
Being a professional-kid-take-care-of-er (nanny, for short) I am frequently reminded of the trials of childhood (“You aren’t cool unless you have a Lisa Frank trapper keeper.” “The kids picked me last at recess.” “I DON’T WANNA EAT MY BROCCOLI!”). One of my latest young charges is a delightful seven year old girl named (for privacy reasons on this blog) W.
Monday, while playing upstairs with her brother, W looked at me and asked: “What makes a good friend?”
And I’ll be darned if that didn’t throw me a little. The first thing in my mind was existential terminology: honesty, compassion, trust. These are words that a seven-year-old knows, but can’t even begin to understand. I thought of the people in my life that I love more than anything, who I think of as friends, and considered what that meant. What does make a good friend?
“Someone who keeps your secrets and tells your theirs. Someone who makes it okay to be silly when you want to be.” I told her, and I’ve spent the last few days thinking if that answer was even close to sufficient or even relatable.
Friendship is a lifetime class where you never graduate. So, how do you sum up it up in a few 1st grade sentences?
I’m no friendship guru (though I’ve read my share of msn.com articles on the matter). I’ll be the first to come out and say I can be a jerk. I’m loud, outspoken, and generally obnoxious. As far as friends go I could due to be more patient, merciful, and available. I have learned a lot, lost a lot, and still have a long way to go. But at the end of almost 25 years on this earth, here is what I do know:
A good friend is not always a best friend. A best friend is not always good for you. A good friend can hurt you and a stranger can help you. Sometimes you can be friends for a long time and then you just aren’t anymore for no one reason. It isn’t simple. It isn’t easy. It isn’t something you can teach, but life goes on.
The more I think about it – the more I realize that this precious little girl is going to just have to figure it out. She has great people around her to help guide her on the right path (myself included) but this is just something you figure out as you go. I could fill her with facts, stats, and antidotes, but at the end of it all life is going to be her best teacher.
So, what does make a good friend?
I probably should have just told her someone who shares their pudding cup at lunch.