The beginning of the school year is an exciting time, as well as a time of adjustment. New teachers and classmates bring on a new chapter where new stories have yet to play out. The tone of the year can be shaped by friendships within the classroom, as well as friendships that accidentally or intentionally were left behind with the last school year.
They’re tied at the hip. Her name is the first name to be eagerly requested when a bring-a-friend opportunity arises. There’s no hesitation on the other side of the phone when the invitation is extended. They are all giggles, smiles and nonstop chatter when they are together. Since day one, they have embraced one another in friendship. Others see that there is something special between them, an undeniable connection, one that would be predicted to last. And then one day it’s just over. There’s no warning, not one indication that it is about to be over. The phone stops ringing, text messages are no longer reciprocated and calls are unanswered.
All is gone and would have been forgotten except for the tears and the “whys” remind you of the pain your daughter is experiencing. She is left with the feelings of rejection, hurt, and with a void that was never anticipated. That’s the worst part of it. While she was busy daydreaming about their next adventure together, distance was settling in on the other side for unknown reasons. As a mother, you want to shield your child from any pain. You want to protect her heart and not allow anything to taint the pureness of her world. Fortunately for her, you have life experiences born from similar situations to bandage the hurt and aid the healing process. There is a reason why we have children after we have experienced so much of life ourselves.
She learns that sometimes we don’t have all the answers and never will. She also learns how to confidently and gracefully navigate through uncomfortable situations. She learns to take ownership of her actions, to be brave and open up a conversation with her friend to ask why. Sometimes friendships are built upon common ground and when that ground changes, the friendship changes. Other times, the situation is not personal it all, and she learns this valuable lesson early on with your guidance. She learns we cannot control others but can take control of thoughts and how we handle situations. She learns to always be the bigger person and say hello.
I think back to my fifth grade year, when I was no longer “cool” enough to hang out with one of my dear friends. When she stopped talking to me at school and started aligning herself with a new set of friends, I was heartbroken. I wondered what I had done wrong. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was a good friend and not allowed her to steal a piece of confidence from me that year. I wish I still said hello to her and her new friends while standing tall.
While none of this has actually played out for my son or daughter, I know one day it will. Time and circumstances change the shape of friendships from kindergarten to high school and beyond. I hope my kids always model respect and kindness, own up to their own actions, and be a good friend even when friendships start heading in a new direction. And when they see their old friends, I hope they always smile and say hello.