For the new book group I joined recently, we are reading a book about friendship. The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow is the true story about a group of 11 women who befriended each other in childhood and have remained tight friends throughout their lives. There is a great deal of info mixed into the story about the research into friendship and it's benefits, male vs. female friendship, and effects of friendship on health. The sociologist in me loves the research parts of the book, as it explores just how important having girlfriends is to women.
Reading this book on this subject has me also thinking more about my son's friendships and how he is now forming his own friendships without parental influence. When he was little, his friends were for the children of my best friends. (And he is still close with those first friends!) Later on it was with other mothers and their kids who I chose to socialize with in the form of play groups or via mommy and me classes. As he began preschool, he started to talk about school friends and eventually bonded with certain kids in his class more than others. Last year in preschool he befriended a classmate who changed him and brought him out of his shyness in class. The teachers repeatedly told me how good this other little boy was for my son and how outspoken and confident he became since bonding with his new buddy. The boys have developed an amazingly close friendship now. They are again in class together this year, which may have been manipulated a bit by the moms, and they are having a blast together.
My son turns FIVE on Friday. (I'm still surprised about that!) In planning his birthday party this year, we decided to host it not in our home, as in years past, for many reasons. The place we chose to host the party has a package that allows him to have 20 kids! Up until this year his birthday parties were family and the kids of my friends, who were also his friends. This year I gave him the opportunity to invite a few of his school friends. Since his birthday is in the beginning of the school year, I wasn't sure how this would play out. My son decided to invite his bouce buddies: the kids he went to the bounce place with repeatedly over the past school year, including his best buddy.
To see these two five year olds play together is amazing. They are very similar in play style and intelligence. They both like to play similar themes and both have incredible imaginations. They have devised a "hideout" this year in the school's side garden where they meet and play after school almost every day. They "grow" food there, they have a security system and they hunt for intruders. They are careful to only invite certain friends there to play with them too!
Over the summer the boys started to talk to each other on the phone. The two would talk for over an hour! The conversations they had were hysterical. It's so nice to see this young friendship grow. Next year the boys will be in different schools for kindergarten, since we live in a different school district from the buddy. It's going to be an adjustment, but with a little parental help, I have a feeling the friendship will continue to grow.