What makes a person a friend?
My daughter has a little playmate, another little girl her age. Let’s call the other little girl Nancy. They are the same height and they were born about a month apart. They see each other once a week if they are lucky, since we all have busy schedules, but when they do get to see each other, they literally jump up and down and scream with delight.
It is hilarious and beautiful to watch.
Nancy’s mom, let’s call her Emily, is a young lady in her 20’s (so she is much younger than I), asked me recently time why I thought they were such good friends. She would take her daughter to play with other friends of hers and they didn’t play together as well. Nancy went to play with her friend Sophia and they ended up not playing well but actually complaining that they didn’t like playing with each other!
That happens, I know. I guarantee as a kid I disowned my best friend more than once, but we would forget our disagreements overnight and the next day we were best friends again. I assume girls can be the same way.
When you ask my daughter about Nancy, she gets excited. If you tell her she is going to see Nancy today, it’s like Christmas. She will bring up Nancy’s name out of nowhere and ask if she can go see her today.
Nancy’s mom says that Nancy is the same way.
The two girls first met when they were both about 1 year old, at Gymboree, a kind of indoor playground for very small children. They had a “class” together once a week and would see each other at the open gym sometimes a second time that week.
Then Nancy and her family moved away for a year to Colorado. Not much was said about them by my daughter while they were gone. In the interim, Savvy learned to swim, ride a bike, and discovered Monkey Bizness.
That’s another indoor playground for kids, but it’s built for kids that are probably age 2 to age 7. There are big things to climb on, a big bounce house, slides, a fingerpaint area, tables for lunch… all inside and air conditioned.
And we would go there about once a week. Which is where we ran into Emily and Nancy again one day.
A year had passed. Nancy had grown and was talking. Emily had changed her hair color, so I did a double take.
At first, I thought I recognized them across the room, so I smiled and waved and said Hi. Then I immediately had an awkward second thought: Nancy and her family moved to Colorado a year ago; you are waving at a lady you don’t know.
But my first thought was right and my second thought was wrong. it was them. And when Emily came over to say Hi, she was happy to see us. When Nancy recognized Savvy, and Savvy recognized Nancy, they were delighted. Little friends reunited again. They played together, held hands, hugged… it was quite a reunion.
We exchanged phone numbers so we could get the kids together once a week or so.
From there, whether they played together once a week or less than that, they were fast friends. in the ensuing year, they have gone to the zoo together, the park, had picnics, played at our house in the pool, attended each other’s birthday parties, and gone back to Monkey Bizness several times.
And that’s when, recently, Emily asked me why I thought they were such good friends.
It was an easy question to answer, but it was very difficult as well.
They are friends because they play together often enough to know that they can trust each other. They are young, still almost babies, but they have learned that each will not hurt the other. They have similar interests and when their interests don’t align, they are relaxed enough to try what the other wants to do. They have similar home situations; each is an only child that doesn’t go to day care – although Nancy started pre-VPK a month ago.
They encourage each other to eat so they can go back to playing. Nancy has often fussed at Savvy: Eat your carrots! Savvy is a slow eater; that cuts into play time.
They enjoy each other’s company.
They put up with each other’s crap.
They miss each other when they are apart. Savvy will say, “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?” It’s her way of reminding me about the motorized boat ride at the zoo, where the kids can drive their own little boat without an adult on board – and it’s a disaster because they can’t drive, the boat starts spinning in dizzying circles, and they cry. Or they throw up. We were lucky that our kids just cried.
They didn’t even ride it at the same time. Savvy rode it once, and hated it; and then a month later when we went back, Nancy rode it (Savvy refused) and hated it. Neither could control the boat, and they just went in circles, spinning out of control until the ride operator rescued them.
I’d hate spinning in circles, too.
But I thought is wasn’t nice for Savvy to bring up a memory where her friend had a bad time, and I was bothered by it. She originally asked, “Dad, remember when Nancy went on the boats and she didn’t like it?” and then she laughed.
“You didn’t like it, either,” I reminded her. “Don’t pick on Nancy about not liking that ride. Neither of you liked it. You cried when you went on it, too.”
The next time she brought it up, she included both of them in the recap: “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?”
I was equally perplexed at why she would bring up a bad memory at all.
But she references Nancy at other times. “Can I go over to Nancy’s house today?” or if we were in the car, she would ask if we could go by Nancy’s house. Sometimes she would ask if we could go to Monkey Bizness and see Nancy, or if Nancy could come over to grandma’s house after swim practice.
Not all the time; she asked these things randomly and occasionally.
Of course, it was a 3-year old’s way of saying that she missed her friend. But it took me a while to realize it,, because they most common phrase she said was about the boats. “Dad, remember when me and Nancy went on the boats? And we didn’t like it?”
She missed her little friend. Her mom and I were fun, but there’s no substitute for a friend your size, who can go down the slide right after you, bounce along in the bounce house with you, fingerpaint next to you…
The answer to the question “Why are they friends?” was as simple as it gets.
And as complex.
They are friends because they like each other.
They have common interests, and their parents have similar parenting styles. that means we allow certain things and don’t allow other things.
They like each other and they trust each other. When one gets hurt, the other shows concern. If one accidentally hurts the other one, or knocks her down while running for the same slide, or trips over her while playing in the bounce house, they apologize. And they mean it.
They’re good kids.
I can think of a hundred reasons why they are such good friends, and I couldn’t say what exactly it is about the combination that makes it so special for each of them. I’m just glad they are good friends. I’m glad they are discovering close friendships at such a young age. I hope they continue to be good friends for a long time, and to add other people into that circle. I’ll do my best to help.
But to be honest; they’re three years old. What do they really know about friendship? I don’t know…
I don’t know, but they do.
For more amazing cuteness from my 4 year old daughter and the rest of her hilarious family, check out my Savvy Stories book series here. (Book two is on sale today) http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1