In my 2nd grade daughter, Iris’s school the word “friend” is not a part of children’s vocabulary. Everyone is referred to by BFF (Best Friends Forever). Iris calls about 20 kids her BFFs (both boys and girls). This term of endearment started in 1st grade but it wasn’t until this past summer that Iris actually learned what it stood for. She came home excitedly from a friend’s house one day and asked if I knew what BFF stood for. Before I could answer, she yammered out the answer for me and stated how unbelievable it was that she had so many people in her life that were going to be her friends FOREVER! Up until that point she just thought she had best friends.
The other day, Iris came home from school and said one of her BFFs had downgraded her to a BF (best friend). She wasn’t terribly upset about this because there had not been a fight or drama. The girl just merely dropped a “F.” Iris couldn’t understand how once you make a promise of “forever” how you can just go back on this eternal promise. “Forever is forever. It never ends.” is how Iris put it. If being downgraded to a BF wasn’t bad enough, the same girl dropped Iris down to an “F” (friend) later in the afternoon because Iris put a snowball down her 5 year old brother, Bency’s coat. All of Iris’s friends have taken a shining to Bency and are all mother hens around him.
As we sat at the dining room table discussing how it’s possible to go from being a BFF in the morning to only an F in the afternoon I found myself reflecting on my own childhood friendships. I remember the excitement of exchanging gold heart necklaces with my best friend. My half of the heart read “B FR” and her half read “EST IENDS.” When you put them together it spelled BEST FRIENDS. I remember sitting perched on top of the monkey bars together and making promises to grow up and live next door to each other.
I explained to Iris that as lovely as forever sounds that it really isn’t the reality of how many relationships will be in her life. As we grow and change so do our friendships. Not necessarily because of fights or that we don’t like each other but because our interests or outlooks change. Childhood is the time to learn how to be a “good” friend and how to receive friendships too. It’s a process that takes practice and reflection like anything else. It’s wonderful to have a lot of people we call friends and if some of them stick around forever, what a truly great blessing that is.
I haven’t seen that girl that I exchanged heart necklaces with in many years. Life got in the way and we ventured down different paths and created families that keep us busy. I’m certain though that if we ran into each other we would laugh and reminisce about our childhood days. The countless sleepovers and the sledding in my backyard that always inevitably got me stuck under the chain link fence and she would have to help me get out. The sledding in her woods; which made us pros at weaving in and out of trees and stopping just before we would land in the creek at the bottom of the hill. The year she received the BB gun when she was 8 years old and how we would go and shoot squirrels in her backyard with it. And the hours upon hours we spent building forts out of tree limbs; never bothering to go in for lunch because we were having too much fun. And of course I would bring up the necklace. I still have it in my jewelry box.
Friendships have a way of making an imprint on your heart. A memory that is forever. No matter if it is a BFF, BF or an F.