A couple of weeks ago my son had his last day at kindy. He’d been at that particular kindy for about 18 months, and in that time made some beautiful friendships. Over his last couple of days, The Mechanic and I tried to explain to him that he’s not going to see these friends every day any more, and that he needs to say good bye to them. Needless to say, he didn’t really get it. I guess that’s the benefit of being so young. It’s what makes kids so “resilient.”
I don’t really remember any of the kids I went to kindy with, except the ones that I then went on to big school with. It clearly didn’t ruin my life that I never saw them again, just as it won’t ruin his. It’s only as his parent, as an adult, that I feel that sense of loss when it comes to friendships, that I see what he stands to lose by not seeing these kids every day, what he will be missing out on. But I also know he is about to have opportunities to make new friendships. Possibly life-long ones. And I also can see that when goes a while without seeing other friends they can pick up right where they left off.
As we get older, letting go of friendships and making new ones is so difficult. It is hard to think that people we have invested so much time in, have invested so much of ourselves in, who know things about us that few (if any) others know might not be there for us one day. That at some point, we might not be as important to them as we thought we were, or as they are to us. Sometimes we are the ones moving on, sometimes we are the ones holding on. It’s hard to realise that life and circumstances sometimes change who and what is important to us. Not by choice, it just happens. And it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way life goes.
Maybe adults could learn from young kids and their friendships. We could learn that it’s ok to play, laugh, and be friends when we can, but it’s ok to take breaks, too. And if by chance we meet again, maybe we can pick up where we left off? Maybe we can learn to not be judgemental, to not take things personally, and to make new friends where possible or necessary? They do it all so easily. They do take things to heart at times, but they also forgive and forget quickly. Why do we make it so much harder as we get older? For kids it’s easy, if you want to play, we’ll play, if you don’t, that’s ok there’ll be someone else who will want to. But adults don’t see friendships like that.
We tend to form groups. Maybe it starts in high school, maybe it’s later in life. I’d say most people can group their friends into different parts of their lives. I have my high school girlfriends, my mothers group girlfriends, my big school mums girlfriends, my PT girlfriends, my college friends…I realise I am very lucky to have so many friends, but they’re obviously not all in my life on a daily basis. And if you move towns, or even suburbs, those group dynamics can change and finding a new group is not always easy. It’s like starting a new school, and you’re the new kid that no one is really quite sure of.
I don’t really know where I am going with this blog post. It sorted of started as a simple observation of how the loss of friendships doesn’t affect (young) children, yet as adults if we lose a friend, for whatever reason, we worry about the why’s, the what did I do wrongs, the “what is wrong with me?”s. But I guess life just keeps moving, and sometimes we move through it together, sometimes we take different paths. And we have choices. Accept it and move on, make the effort to keep in touch (not any excuse these days with Facebook Skype & the rest of social media!) or understand that just because we can’t see people every day like we did at school doesn’t mean you’re any less of a friend. That’s how it works for 5 year olds. Maybe it could work for 35 year olds, too?