My daughter has been having some friend problems lately. To be honest, I think we are lucky to have come right through to Year 6 with this being our first real issue. It is nothing major (although I’m sure it seems that way to her) and she is mostly a happy resilient kid, so I am not marching out to champion her cause. Not yet, anyway.
What I am doing is listening. Listening to her feelings, hugging her while she cries, listening to the things she isn’t saying, but is showing. I’m trying not to do too much talking, because she needs to come to some realisations herself. But one thing I did have to let her know. Next year – at high school - it all changes. I think we focus so much on the negatives of the high school years and our own experiences, that we feed into the fears that kids have. “It’s so big.” “The teachers aren’t as patient.” “The work is hard.” “We’ll be the youngest kids instead of the oldest.” What I wanted my daughter to understand going in to high school, is that next year is an opportunity to make wonderful friendships. Yes, there are a lot more kids, but that increases your chance of finding the few true friends who you just click with. She seemed a little skeptical, so I told her my own story.
I walked into the local catholic high school with only two other kids from my public primary school, neither of whom I knew particularly well and ended up in a class where I knew nobody. So I stuck with my primary school acquaintances for a while, making the odd new friend here and there, but never really anyone that I clicked with. Slowly over the first few months I got to know more of my classmates and as we got to know each other better, particular girls began to stand out. Girls who always lifted me up and never let me down. Girls who I understood and who understood me. Then I named three names to my daughter. Three women who she knows so well because they are like family to her. She has heard me sit and laugh for hours with each of them whenever we get together – whether it is once a week, once a month or once a year. I saw her eyes widen, as she realised how long we have been friends. And I think she got it. She was certainly a lot more confident and hopeful about her own problems.
So once again my friends have come to my aid. This time without even knowing. Thanks guys! (You know who you are.)