Friday, May 16, 2014

Friendship is a verb.

Twice a month we have homeschool open play at the park near our house. It's moms (and dads) sprawled out on blankets on the grass while kids mix and mingle and play. Sometimes a big kid will organize a huge game of capture the flag; other times small groups will go off on adventures to the cave. If it's cold or rainy, we all go inside and the kids play air hockey or pool or ride bikes and scooters around the gym. There's usually a Pokemon trading situation or a Beyblade tournament at some point. And ever since the city dropped a big pile of dirt behind the community center, the kids have spent most of their time back there, doing whatever it is kids do (they call it the Mound of Love...).


It's easily my favorite part of our homeschool schedule. I've met some of the best people I know sitting around that park. And for the kids, it's like recess - times a thousand. Same kids, week after week, month after month, year after year...

You would think by now my boys would be thick as thieves with some of these kids. And they are. Kind of... But mostly they're friends with the kids they've hung out with outside open play. And sometimes, honestly, they just want to play with each other. Which I totally get. (Bill and I are like that at parties sometimes.) It's hard to go from acquaintance to friend, even if you see each other every other week. It often takes an inciting incident to take things to the next level. A play date, a phone call...something to get the ball rolling.

This morning, Finn got a call from his buddy Glory. Her mom and I have been trying to force them to be friends for EVER so this was a really big step in the right direction. She asked if he wanted to play with her at open play. He shrugged his shoulders, playing it cool. "Um, okay!"

"Do you want to share a snack?"

"Okay, cool!"

That was it, really, but as soon as we got to open play, they ran right up to each other. Glory leading the way, Finn pretending it was no big deal...



(She's wearing her much older sister's dress; his entire outfit is backwards...they are obviously meant to be friends.)

They hung out most of the afternoon, just like they said they would. They even shared the snack Finn packed - a bag of Southwest airlines pretzels, a couple tootsie rolls from Halloween and a piece of blue licorice (no idea where that one came from).



Watching them be so intentional with each other was great for me to see.

I realized a couple months back that I could sit on my blanket on the grass next to all these amazing people for years and never make anything more than an acquaintance. Or I could step a teeny bit out of my comfort zone - by getting a phone number or saying yes to a drink or asking for help or having some real talk - and create some honest to goodness friendships. I think I was under the impression that friendship was something that just happened after enough time had passed. But that's so not true! Friendship is not something you get, it's something you DO. Time doesn't turn a person into friend (like I thought), a person has to act like a friend in order to be (or make) a friend.

Thanks to Finn and Glory for the adorable reminder.

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