A man may learn wisdom even from a foe.
Crushed experiences on what friendship means has been at the center of our children’s hearts much of this ski season. Today we officially closed this season – and with more tears than joy. The heart ache of unmet expectations – of not being (or feeling) included with your best buds, smothers the joy of a terrific ski season.
Seeing our strong and happy 7-year-old-son well up in tears of disappointment at the dinner table as he spoke about Rick, the boy he’s called his best friend, not ski with him for the race just tugged at my heart. This is a friend our son has loved to imaginatively play with for the last 18-months. But the family hasn’t been available or our schedule hasn’t matched up to connect, and our son is left wondering “why can’t I play with Rick?” I tell him I don’t know. He’s left a message and wrote a note – a lot of initiative for a little man. And still, nothing. Last year we had many days skiing together – and even fishing. This day there has been none. How do I help our son understand the contrasts of these two seasons? How do I shed light on a situation I don’t understand myself? How do I help him with the heart ache of being separated by your best buddy? Yes, these are the moments that make my heart ache on my sleeve – and it hurts. These are the moments that I question the value of opening our hearts to others outside our family, for the loss of friendship is great.
Our nine-year-old daughter is going through a similar thing – feeling cut out from the group she’s been tightest with for the last 18-months – seeing a new girl, whose already cut her out, now move into her former spot with her friends. The pain runs too deep for her to know how to respond but to pull away. The pain is overwhelming for a child whose loved her friends and come to believe that they care about her – only to repeatedly feel shut out and not included. In this, our daughter did ask me to talk to one of the Mom’s. So I did, because it’s either clear it up or let go of the friendship. The cost of keeping one’s heart open to those who seem to shut us out is just too great. The feeling of rejection begins so early for our children. The weight of sadness our daughter feels in this makes me feel quite sad, too – and disappointed. I pray that communication will dissipate the misunderstanding.
As I see our children ache for more time with their very favorite friends, I realize how important it is to set time aside for this. We get so caught up in Karate classes and all the other “to do’s” that we can forget how important just being together really is – especially for our children, as time is their “love language.”
So for Monday I’ve made a radical decision – and that is to meet with another homeschooling family in the morning to hike and study nature or do an art project with. It’s totally off the map from our normal Monday routine. But it’s a plan that responds to what our daughter has said she wants to do, and besides that, change is good anyway! And then we’ll play some basketball with Rick! It’s a good day, even though it’s different.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
— C.S. Lewis