You Have A Piece of My Heart

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.

Dear Iris,Thank you so much for being my BFF! I remember the first time we met the first day of first grade. You are the best friend I could ever have.

Dear Iris,
Thank you so much for being my BFF! I remember the first time we met the first day of first grade. You are the best friend I could ever have.

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.

My half of the heart

My half of the heart

She Believes in Unicorns and Other Fancy Stuff

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, has always believed in magic and all things whimsical. She has held a deep grasp for empathy since she was a toddler and always seemed to have a firm but unexplained understanding of how the world worked.

When Iris was 2 ½ years old, we went to visit my husband’s family in Albuquerque, NM. My husband’s father had passed away 11 years earlier. We had only prior to this showed Iris a picture of her deceased grandpa and told her, “That’s your Papa Bency.” We did not tell her he was gone or even bring him up when we went to see my husband’s mom. When we arrived in Albuquerque at Grandma Ramona’s house, Iris immediately said, “Papa Bency is here.” We all eyed each other quizzically, got goose bumps and shrugged our shoulders.

As the week long visit went on, we noticed Iris constantly talking to herself. We asked who she was talking to and it was always…”Papa Bency”. One day we heard the front door creak, no one was there and Iris said, “Papa Bency just got here for the party.” We did indeed have a party that night with 40-50 family members! As our trip came to an end, we asked Iris what her favorite part of the vacation had been. We thought for sure she was going to say the aquarium visit or playing with one of her 25 cousins but her response was simple and matter of fact…”playing with Papa Bency.”

We haven’t had a chance to travel back to Albuquerque since then, and Papa Bency never “appeared” at our house.


Iris and I at the Albuquerque aquarium when she was 2 1/2


When Iris turned 3 years old, she had two steadfast friends join her life. Lydia and Mango were her imaginary friends. They occasionally joined us at the dinner table but mainly stayed up in the attic crawl space I converted into a play area for Iris. The stories Iris told me about them were so detailed. She described what they wore; how they did their hair; what they talked about and was even sad when one of them got sick and couldn’t play one day. The stories were so believable it made me almost want to check the crawl space a few times to confirm they were only imaginary. When Iris was 4 years old she came to me very sad. She said, “Lydia and Mango have died. They were in a terrible accident.” Iris’s only outside influences were Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. We had never talked about death or “terrible accidents.” Unfortunately, Lydia and Mango never joined us at the dinner table again.


Iris playing in the hide out with her brother when she was 3 1/2


In the past two years, Iris has acquired a strong belief in unicorns and two more new friends. Iris knows not everyone believes in unicorns but it does not deter her in any way. She scoffs at their disbelief and is on the constant search for these beautiful beasts to prove everyone wrong. She is currently saving all of her money to afford a trip to the magical forest where she believes they all reside. Her new friends are the Bedtime Fairy and the Tooth Fairy. They are actually just pen pals as she actually has never seen them. She writes to them religiously and though the fairies are sometimes delayed in responding (mainly because they don’t know they have an awaiting letter), they ALWAYS answer back. Iris has learned through her correspondence what their nicknames are, their favorite colors, their birthdays, their ages and that the Tooth Fairy just got a boyfriend named Cupid.

Iris delights me, challenges me and makes my world amusing and fanciful. I miss the days of “Papa Bency, Lydia and Mango.” It seems those days were here and gone in a blink of the eye. I’m cherishing every minute I have watching her wonderment in unicorns and her “friendship” with the fairies. Before I know it, they may all be gone too.


Iris on her 7th birthday


note to the Bedtime Fairy telling her she just got her ear pierced and she was nervous and excited. It hurt a little then it stopped.


Tooth Fairy pillow that Nana made her