Quite often, I’d return home to tales of how B made a new friend at the playground.
She’d tell me the name of her new friend, how old he or she was, and how they had a fun time playing together.
Three year old B’s openness towards making new friends was a little lesson to me. A lesson I learnt from my little one.
It made me realise that there is so much simple joy in how children strike up friendships.
Whilst it seems guileless and carefree, there always is a certain risk involved, even at tiny ages.
Some kids might not want to be friends or include another new kid in their play. Others might not play nice. There is a certain risk, a certain vulnerability exposed, when a child asks ‘can I play together with you?’.
Yet, ask they do. I’ve seen B ask it, and I’ve witnessed other kids approaching her with that question. Usually they are around the age of 3 or 4.
I realise that as they grow older, kids around five are less likely to ask it outright. Rather, they just play together non-commitally first, and start chatting only after some chemistry has been established.
Observing all this made me reflect on my own friendships. After my mid-twenties, I thought I was pretty much done with making friends. It was already not easy to keep in touch with the good friends I had made over the years, so I didn’t feel like stretching myself thinner, in terms of time and effort invested in maintaining friendships.
Enter motherhood. I was quite amazed at how quickly friendships could be forged between mothers. There is at once a shared identity, a common experience of parenting that makes chatting so easy.
Of course, there are some minefields to warily step around, as some women are still so insecure they feel a terrible need to boast, or others are just toxic in a variety of ways.
But a few rotten apples apart, I’ve learnt that it is still possible to forge deep friendships, offering and receiving encouragement and support that is sweet in every sense of the word.
I am genuinely amazed and grateful that at this supposed ripe old age, I have made friends that I can tell almost anything to, friends who will pray with me and for me, friends who understand my trials, and friends whom I can journey together with in this season of life.
Everyone needs community, and I’m glad I have a few that I can be myself in, and count on in times of need.
So B has taught me this too – that I should not discount opening my heart and hand to others. There might be some vulnerability, some risk, but there is also the strong support of people who truly care, fellow sojourners to make each step just a little more fun, a little less ponderous.