Thursday, August 10, 2006

Friendship

In the past couple of years, Amanda has made new friends wherever we went. Last year we were camping and the girl beside us was about her age. They rode bikes, explored, played cards and had a great time for those three days. Over those days I asked her some questions: What grade is she in? How would I know? (Well, you could have asked her). What did y'all talk about? I don't know. See, it wasn't that kind of relationship. And that's okay.

Have you noticed how easy friendship is for kids? Well, of course there is the usual "she likes you more than me" stress, but do you realize how easy it is for a child to make a friend? As a child, you don't think about what she thinks about you, or if you're talking too much or not enough. You're just having a good time.

Amanda was swimming in the pool at our hotel this week, and came over to the side and asked Terry or me to come in because she had no one to play with. Terry answered, "There are a million kids here." I added on, with the "anything for a laugh" parenting style that I inherited from my mother, "There's one right there!" There was indeed a girl about her age on the edge of the pool not two feet from her, watching this whole exchange. She grinned wide when I pointed her out, and Amanda looked slightly embarrassed, but then they swam off together and played for the next hour.

But when I went over to check on them, I noticed that things had changed a bit. Instead of a completely simple friendship that she used to enjoy on these occasions, this one came with a name. "Mom, this is Alexa." Wow. She doesn't usually remember names, nor would she introduce me. I had overheard them talking earlier. Amanda was asking Alexa if she played any sports and telling her that she liked soccer. Hmmm. Searching for common ground. Wanting to go deeper.

It's really all we need to do, regardless of age. Take the plunge into friendship. Go out on a limb and invite someone over or meet them for coffee. Talk to her and find some common interest, be it sports, children, or a specific hobby, such as knitting or tennis. That casual relationship may stay right where it is--a coworker who you go to lunch with, or another mom friend who you meet for coffee once a week for casual chit chat while your kids are in preschool. Or, if the time and circumstances seem right, you might go deeper by asking her and husband on a double date, or the whole family over for dinner. You might let her help you out when you need it, which will make her feel needed and closer to you. You might help her out, which will, well--help her (and maybe make her like you even more).

The back to school season has always been a landmark to me, even when I didn't have children. That's when the new year starts fresh for me, not in January. So, is it time for a fresh start for you? Clubs will be resuming their regular meeting schedule, after likely taking a summer hiatus. New Bible study groups will be starting up, day and night, weekday and weekend, across America (and the world). Small groups may be reorganizing in churches, making it easier for someone new to get involved. Neighborhood playgroups will be forming, or reuniting. Someone may ask you, or do some encouraging like I did with Amanda and her swim friend, or they may not.

Would you rather hang on to the side, alone and discontent with your present circumstances, or do you want to make a friend and do flips, have underwater tea parties, and have breath-holding contests? It's your call.

24 comments:

Trisha said...

Beautifully written and a good lesson for us all. Thanks for stopping by to see me. I appreciate the advice.

amelia said...

Such great thoughts. As adults we just make friendship too complicated! Thanks for stopping by my site too.

Laurel Wreath said...

this is timely for me. I have been hanging out at football practice with my sons, feeling a little left out among all the Mom's that seem to know each other. You see this is our first year, and they have been doing it for several years.

I need to make some "first moves". It is silly but even as adults we carry the same insecurities.

Great topic.

Shelledpeas said...

I love the camping friendships. My kids always seem to find someone and play constantly the whole time we camp. Are y'all still tent campers or have you graduated to the pop-up/RV?

alisa said...

Hi!-great post-and timely for me since we have just moved to a new town. I lived in my previous town for 13 yrs-now we moved an hour away and we are starting all over again! I was so excited to read your blog-You are in Connecticut tooo!! I found you through Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer. We share many of the same love of books-thanks for making my day!!

Katrina said...

I do tend to hang onto the side, just observing others, most of the time. But as I get older, I find I'm becoming a little bolder, a little less fearful. Maybe it's because I'm more confident in myself or because I'm not quite as worried about what other people think of me. Either way, you're right - taking that plunge can really pay off in a variety of ways.

blestwithsons said...

Have I told you lately that I seriously like your blog?

Cause I do!

This is a wonderful post...I know for me, making blog friends has been a whole lot easier than the live-in-person variety. But I'll keep trying!

Heather said...

Thanks for this challenge. My husband is the shotgun type when it comes to new environments: meet everyone and see what becomes of it. I tend to hang on to the side and observe. And observe, and observe, and observe. At some point, I need to swim. This was particularly challenging for us when we first got married. I moved away from my circle of friends. He wanted to introduce me to everyone and anyone. I wanted to hide for a bit. But then I wanted to complain about not having any friends. I know, just call me Janus.

voni said...

Thanks for your wise thoughts. Enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for stopping by yesterday:)

Jaime said...

Excellent post. It's given me alot to think about, especially being new to my town.

I also enjoy your posts as a new blogger. I'm learning how better to blog, and not just journal.

Joshua Lake said...

Thanks for another great post, and for such great encouragement. This is great inspiration to dive in, to be like a child again.

Tammy said...

Such a great post! I am sort of shy by nature but always crave those very close friendships. It's true...we have to get outside our comfort zone once in awhile to make friends.

Our church has an Girlfriends organization, which sponsers little clubs such as book clubs, scrapbooking, writing, adventures ect. And their logo always has a bunch of little girls on playing dress up. Because as you will pointed out- we are still little girls at heart, just wanting to make friends and have tea parties.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the great feedback. I hope that it really is an encouragement. I agree that it's sooo much easier to connect in the blogosphere, or over email or whatever. I have found when I reach out and make the first move that the person is so glad to be included or pursued (well, that makes me sound sort of stalkerish, which I am not).

SP--we are still tent campers, but the inlaws have a trailer, so we get the benefit of their a/c if we need it during the day, and a fridge. It's a good compromise.

Tammy--that sounds like a great club and a perfect logo for it.

Jeannine said...

I find that the older I get the easier time I have making new friends. I don't know why, but for some reason I'm no longer shy, and I'm glad. :-)

Jeannine said...

I answered your corn question at my blog. I hope it's helpful.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Great post. It's PTA time again, and I find myself not wanting to go to all the mom stuff. It takes a lot of effort, but you're right, this is what we're teaching our kids to do...

Hey, are you up for an underwater tea party? I'm fixing.

Tasra Dawson said...

Wonderful reminder...I want to have underwater tea parties! I love how blogging allows us to step out of our shells and have those "blog- girlfriends" that we all need!

Anna Venger said...

I think God gives us children to learn the lessons of life that we would never learn without them.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

great insight!

i love watching my son play and make new friends. he is so social - but then again so am I. i love making new friends.

Robin said...

Initiative...really, that's all it takes! Think how thankful YOU are when someone pursues you; why not be the one pursuing others? For many, I realize it IS a step out of your comfort zone, but the reward is soooo worth it :). Thanks for encouraging and reminding us, it's not about us, after all ;)

Pamela said...

I have leanred that developing friendships are like riding an elevator.

There are just some people that you get on board with that you can't ride all the way to to the top.

There are other people that you get off on the same floor.

Discernment...

I need to stay friendly with those other people. But the energy and devotion are saved for the special ones.

Mert said...

Food for thought, definitely. We moved here 5 yrs ago, and I really don't have any friends here. Mostly because I have been burned a lot in the past. Thanks for having the courage to post this!

Karmyn R said...

So true!!! I wish it was that easy as an adult!

BooMama said...

My college friendships have been deep and lasting - and in a way have made it more difficult for me to make friends in this stage of life. I'm used to a "shorthand," in a way, that I have with my long-time friends, and I get frustrated when I have a friendship that seems to get stuck in superficial mode. Thanks for the reminder that I have to "take the plunge" -

:-)