Making, keeping, and Letting Go of Friends At Any Age

We girls can be a tough crowd. Whether we are 5 or 55, establishing and nurturing friendships can be difficult. I was reminded of this as my daughter started kindergarten. She is outgoing, friendly and generally up for anything- a perfect recipe for making friends. Yet she came home disappointed nearly everyday the first week of school. Not in herself or her expectations of school, but in others. She was adjusting beautifully to the schedule and the environment. But she was upset by the way other girls were acting in the lunchroom, playground, and bus. It seems when left to their own devices, several little ladies were already actively excluding her. And I’m not talking about strangers. Some of these girls are kids she has known for years through preschool. “She told me she was my ex-friend,” she relayed one day. “So and so was being really bossy on the playground and wouldn’t let some other girls play,” she reported another day. Even at 5 years old she can accurately articulate her hurt feelings and it pained me to see her already navigating “girl drama” at such a young age.

I suggested telling the offenders that they were hurting her feelings, sitting elsewhere at lunch, or introducing herself to different girls. “They’re just adjusting to school differently than you are,” I would say, justifying their behavior to her (and myself).  To her credit, she was open to my suggestions. Yet it seems to be persisting.

I brought it up with my husband.  You can guess how seriously he took the issue. Men simple don’t analyze or agonize over interactions the way we females do. He did, however, make me realize that my daughter is just like me in yet another way.

I’ve held on and attempted to maintain friendships far longer than some friends frankly deserve. And still, I can’t help but feel hurt when the sixth voicemail goes unreturned. Or when big announcements (like “I’m having a baby”) go unacknowledged. Real, true friends aren’t too busy to shoot you a message on occasion, answer your call, or make time for things together (even if you have to look months ahead in your calendar).  For those “true blues” still in my life, I am profoundly grateful. And I vow to make sure they always know how important they are to me.

But but I have outgrown some other friends. Maybe we have simply grown apart. And I suppose that’s ok.

So I’ve decided to take this opportunity to serve as an example for my daughter and make some new friends. A new school means meetings, activities and interactions with new parents and families. These are people who will be part of our lives for years to come. Might as well get to know them, right?! And just like I tell my daughter, I’m not going to take it personally anymore when those who were, at one point, a fixture in my world, no longer seem to be.

I pray that the other girls in school see what a sweet, smart, fun little friend she is, and can be. And I hope she doesn’t get down on herself as she navigates this. A spirit like hers should not and cannot be broken by some junior mean girl shenanigans.

From here on out, I’ll lead by example and show her what healthy female friendships, old and new, can bring to your life.

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Jen Picciano

I'm a television news reporter, wife, mom, cook book junkie and wanna-be chef. I hate wasting food and love getting creative in the kitchen. Bringing you access to premiere chefs and news in the food world. Reviewing new cooking-related products and services. Living life with a mic in my hand and a pencil behind my ear...or with an apron on, cooking for those I love.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Oh, Jen - when I was reading your blog, the vivid feelings of dealing with this with my daughter came running back. It’s so hard to know that they are going through what we all did. I, like you, did a bit of a friend cleanse one year while living in Chicago. I had to only position myself around people who I thought had my best interest at heart & who were true friends. It was liberating (and terrifying). Good for you for realizing it - and I will gladly be a part of your “new” friend group. Even if it’s mostly via our smartphones:)

  • Well said. We are all really busy, that’s true but still, we make time for what is important to us. If friends aren’t making any time for us, how good a friends are they really?

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