Last week, my son was asked to reflect about his own strengths and weaknesses. I shared his thoughts, and my feelings about his thoughts, in a post called A Smarter Kind of Me.
The whole idea of knowing yourself and knowing your child continued with another lesson.
During Curriculum Night, the teacher left a questionnaire on every student desk. The intent of the activity was to see how well the parent’s perception of our child matched with their own ideas. The sheet was filled with harmless questions such as: What is your favorite color? As far as we knew, the answer to that question had always been purple, but apparently it has now been replaced with blue.
One question took Mom-Di aback….
Who is your best friend?
Friends…sigh. This had always been the hardest subject in school.
Unsure about the answer and who would be seeing the answers among the crowded room, D put “not sure.” She didn’t want to put the “wrong” answer and she wanted to leave a non-judgmental response, one without hidden meanings. She left the sheet on the desk as instructed by the teacher and the students would check to see how accurate the answers were in the morning.
After my son came home last Friday, D found the completed form in his folder. In addition to her thoughts, each question now had a red mark that was either a check or an X. This was to show if he agreed with her answers and where we realized that purple was no longer the chosen one.
“I wasn’t sure how to mark the best friend question.”
“I don’t have a best friend, I just have friends.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Now, I wasn’t there for this exchange. I was working late, but I am glad that I wasn’t sitting at the kitchen island for this one. I know that my face would have shown the emotions that I felt when I heard this report later that evening.
“That is SO sad” I said as I listened to her account of the discussion.
D’s response was relaxed and low-keyed…”Not really. Not everyone has to have a best friend.”
Thinking back, I always had best friends. They were the ones that I wanted to see first thing at school, meet up with at recess, and play with once we were all home and out of our school clothes. In our neighborhood, we ran with a group, but their were understood subsets of “besties” that were fairly consistent.
Through middle school and high school, I always had best friends. They changed over the years. I guess because we changed.
Even now at work, I have a “sphere” of people who I know have my back regardless.
Who will have his back? Who will make up his “sphere.”
When I ask him about friends, he says that he doesn’t have any. But when I ask him to share who he played with at recess and who he sat with at lunch, he shares the names consistently. One afternoon I took this discussion a bit farther and said, “you like playing with them. Don’t you think you could call them friends?”
“Yeah…I guess. I like playing with them at school, but I just don’t need to see them after school. That’s why I don’t call them ‘friends’.” Air quotes used with “friends.”
I hugged him and he added, “You know… I would much rather spend time with you guys.”
I know that at some point, this will not be his response. He will get to a point where he won’t want to spend his free time with us without bribes or obligation. That’s the way that it is supposed to be. Until then, I will try to remember to enjoy EVERYDAY now.