The thoughtfulness of friends

My friend Kara wrote the most incredibly thoughtful email to me after reading my post about Grace’s anxiety and loneliness. She makes so many points that made me think that I want to include excerpts here.

but your blog about Gracie and her birthday party makes my heart ache–I remember being that age having private heartaches that overwhelmed my whole world that got so much better after telling my mom.

How can you tell a child that age–when all they want to do is blend in–how special she is and that these pains now are growing pains/a rite of passage and that she should just stay her own unique self bc all the adults in her life see her for who she is and love her for it? And that the things that make life so hard for her right now ultimately may stand her in good stead as an adult?

This is so exactly how I see Grace right now. She wants so clearly to be part of the group, and I know she will eventually find her “home,” whatever it looks like, but I also actively celebrate the things about her that make her a little different right now. I personally spent so long fitting in that I never really noticed that it didn’t actually quite fit – that’s one of the things that I’m struggling with now. So I honor Grace’s inability or unwillingness to mold herself.

Since the post she has told me that one friend, a boy in her class, likes to swing as much as she does. She tells me that they talk on the swings, and this is clearly very reassuring to me. I asked her tonight what they talk about and she thought for a minute before shrugging and saying, “Well, we don’t really talk. We just kind of swing together.” I was utterly charmed by this image, and felt a new wave of certainty that my independent and thoughtful child will eventually find friends with complimentary rhythms in their spirits, friends whose desires for closeness and space echo her own.

I ate lunch by myself on the back stairwell of my first day of Lawrenceville bc I was so intimidated.

This made me smile a faint smile, both of knowing exactly how that feels, and of being so touched that Kara would reveal such a detail. It reminded me of Katherine Center’s moving blog post about how stories can save us. Katherine says many wise things, but the one that I am thinking of right now is that when her son skins his knee she doesn’t tell him about how blood clots. She tells him about how she skinned her knee once. And with this single detail, as with my friends, the other person’s loneliness is swept far away.

I guess the lesson G teaches is to have faith that there’s always a reason for what can seem like bratty behavior–child or adult

This is Kara’s third point that made me nod. Yes. This is hard to remember, isn’t it? But we would all be happier people, I think, if we reminded ourselves that whenever anyone acts badly they are probably demonstrating hurt or fear or another genuine emotion. I don’t think I’m very good at this yet, often because I get caught in my own emotional maelstrom in reaction to the other person, but Kara’s message is a good prompt and reminder.

Thank you, dear one.

2 thoughts on “The thoughtfulness of friends”

  1. Thank you so much for mentioning my post in your post!!! I'm so glad it resonated with you. It's so true about the comfort stories bring, and the way they can broaden our perspectives. Your story about your daughter swinging is so sweet! So fun to visit your blog!

  2. I could never let my child go to a sleep over camp. Shes 9 and I think thats ridiculously young. I just can’t wrap my mind around what you mom’s are thinking. Are you looking for free mommy time? I love your blog but on this subject we part ways. Your child could go to day camp. Kids need their moms at night.
    Mary : )

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