One recent morning at school drop-off, my daughter’s teacher took me aside and told me that it was really beautiful to see how much these two girls loved one another.
“They sit together at lunch, they play outside, they’re inseparable, and they play so nicely with each other. It’s lovely to see,” she said.
No matter what happens, she’s going to remember this forever. Her friendship with Claire is always going to be extra-special because it was her first real friend. I still remember my first best friend, too. Her name was Sarah and we were best friends for years until I moved away from our hometown, and she went away to to live abroad. Our elementary school days were filled with magical memories: sleepovers, movies, playing princesses, and splashing in the pond behind her house.
When my daughter started a new school this year, she was nervous and unsure of herself. She acted so tough that no one else could tell, but I knew she was afraid. She feels things hard, like me, and she’s strong-willed and passionate. She needed someone to ground her, and when Claire magically appeared, probably at the library, sharing a love for all things My Little Pony, everything changed. All of a sudden, my daughter couldn’t wait to get to school every morning so they could play.
Slowly they bonded. I watched all last year as their friendship unfolded over playdates and birthday parties. Claire was the gentle, soft-spoken snow to my daughter’s flames, a perfect match, Anna and Elsa, though who gets to be the queen and who gets to be the princess changes daily. The two of them are great about treating one another fairly like that, so they each get a turn at being Elsa.
I hope my daughter and Claire always have each other. When I watch them playing Barbies on a rainy afternoon, wading at the beach pretending to be mermaids, frolicking in the matching blue dresses that they both desperately needed for their birthdays, I try to picture what adventures their future holds. I pray they stay best friends for a long time, because they’ll need each other to navigate the complicated underworld of elementary school politics. Come middle school, it’ll be the mean girls. High school brings the challenges of boys, peer pressure, and lord only knows what else teenagers will be doing in 10 years. I don’t even want to think about that. But at the same time, it’s amazing imagining them driving actual cars and visiting one another’s college dorms.
I shouldn’t get ahead of myself though. What they share right now is perfect, and the recent memories alone are enough. Oh, and thanks to Claire for getting my child to eat carrots and cucumber, too. That was a huge accomplishment. Best friends clearly have more influence than mums about certain things.
Each time my daughter and Claire are apart and then see each other again, I swear, even if it’s only been a 10-minute separation, I love how they act like they’ve been reunited after decades of longing. They’ll scream and embrace and tell each other every single detail of every event that’s gone down since they last saw each other. That’s true friendship right there, and watching them made me miss that kind of friendship in my adult life.
Friendships change when we get big. We guard our feelings more carefully. Grownups don’t have the same kind of trust and optimism, the ability to forgive and forget in the span of 10 minutes that children do, and I wish that I could tell my daughter, in a way that she could understand, to keep her willingness to love her friends so much. I wish she could know how magical a first real friendship is, but that will come in time. We can only see that kind of stuff when we’re older, looking backwards.
No matter what happens, I want her to be able to look back and remember how special the times with her best friend were. I want her to remember the innocence, the way when she was little that she lived completely in every moment she and her best friend spent together. Remember that pure joy they inspired in one another. I’d forgotten, until she and Claire reminded me.
For right now, I just want them to play. I want to tell them: keep giggling, girls, keep telling those knock-knock jokes that make no sense whatsoever.
Dresses: Jow Junior
Photo credits: Evelyne Photography – www.evelynephotography.com
Models: Amalia and Julie