By Sarah R. Moore
Childhood friends are so much more than meet the eye. Our children’s first relationships outside the home are noteworthy insofar as they’re our kids’ first conditional relationships. Different from their relationships with family — in which they’ve little choice about with whom they associate — childhood friends give kids the opportunity to decide for themselves whom they hold dear.
Childhood friendships are our children’s first major foray into greater independence and self-sufficiency. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they’ll be hearing about perspectives, priorities, and values that differ from those they’ve encountered before. Peering into the lives of friends give children glimpses into the beautifully diverse world that awaits them.
While beautiful, there’s also a hint of bittersweetness in this awakening; in these budding friendships. It may feel like only yesterday that our little ones were toddling around, barely able to stand on their own — and here they are, having full-blown conversations and connections.
Our children are taking baby steps away from us emotionally now…and into something that, if we’re bold enough to admit it, is wonderful in its own heart-wrenching way.
People besides Mum and Dad start to matter to them.
As children grow into this whole new chapter of their lives, one gift that they impart to us is that we get to bear witness to the gift of early friendship. We get to recall some of what makes it so very special. And perhaps, part of the reason for our ability to observe this is also a tender reminder of how we all might strive to live together.
1. Childhood friends give their hearts fully
Have you ever watched children at a birthday party? When it’s time to present the birthday child with their gifts, it can become a veritable chorus of “Open mine first!”. Friends nearly trip over each other to be among the first to put a smile on the receiver’s face.
Each one wants to have given the “best” gift, but not for reasons of vanity or prestige. Rather, they want the childhood approval that demonstrates how much joy they’re capable of offering. It’s a selfless act of generosity.
More than gift-givers, they’re joy-givers — a true childhood friend is the one who’s gotten it “right” for another. The friend who “wins” is the one who’s shown up with their heart on their sleeve, and to have their offering of love be accepted. It has little, if anything at all, to do with the monetary value of the gift.
In childhood, it is truly the thought that counts. It is among the most innocent forms of approval, with the greatest reward being a genuine smile.
“Childhood friends are the benchmark of our lives, no matter where we go, what we do. They will always come by and take you to the place where you belong.” – Unknown
2. Childhood friends support one another
Among the gifts that childhood friends offer to one another is their near-unconditional joy for each other’s blessings in life.
How common it is for a child to enjoy something at a friend’s home — be it a toy, a pet, or even just a special rock — and rather than returning home with envy and resentment, they’ll often ask, “When can we go back there again?”
They’re simply happy to take part in the joy that their friend has to offer, without immediately coveting it for themselves. Perhaps it’s not even a “thing” at all; it may just be the simple goodness of cherished time together.