This morning I met up with a friend of mine whose little boy is about 2 weeks younger than mine. We met at a Baby Sensory class when our sons were around 4 months’ old and we clicked straight away, and over the two years we have created a warm and nurturing friendship. Like me, she gets enormous pleasure from watching our two boys interact and connect with each other. As babies, this connection was very limited – a bit of parallel play and sitting in opposite high chairs whilst the two mums chatted away over a coffee or two.
Now that they are over two years old, we can see how the boys are integrating new concepts of human connection – such as sharing and empathy. As parents we obviously have a duty to encourage positive interactions at an early age, which means making them aware of when they snatch something away from another, or to say thank you and please when appropriate. I can see already how this early learning is such a foundation for future behaviours. And I also wonder whether by encouraging our two boys to play from this young age, whether theirs will be a strong and lasting friendship – merely by the fact they have interacted so young. Or ultimately, will their individual personalities develop over time, and mean that this early connection won’t necessarily provide the glue to maintain and hold that friendship together. At this point of course, it will be down to us mummies; for it will be the two of us, and indeed our connection, that will create their opportunities to deepen their friendship.
This got me thinking about friendships in general. Do all friendships have some kind of emotional or other type of ‘glue’ to maintain the bond? Is the glue even more ethereal than that, like an energy of sorts? Perhaps it is a little more basic in some cases – friendships out of loyalty or survival even.I can see for myself that I have different kinds of friends, or more accurately, I know all kinds of people and their connection with me varies. I love that variety though; the fact that diverse people offer different things. What’s more, some friendships run deep, built over time or depth of joint experience. Others are less deep-rooted but nonetheless very fulfilling and rewarding when we are sharing the same space. And some are fleeting and yet the impression made is long-lasting and still easily recalled, even if years have passed.
Nowadays, technology plays a big part in our interactions and friendships. Social media has certainly changed the dynamics of our human interactions, and to be honest, I’m no expert in this so I won’t profess to examine the sociological or societal impacts of the Facebooks and Twitters of our world. But I do wonder whether we have become less discerning, less rigorous in our choices of friends these days. Whether for some, the acquiring of many friends is more important than the development and nurturing of the relationships we have already.
For my part, I can only hope that my son’s friendship with his little pal is one that will develop positively, and out of which he will learn the wonderful aspects of friendship. As William Penn said, “A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.” How nice it will be for both my son and I to develop our mutual friendships over the course of time.
But before I sign off, I leave you with another quote and parting thought, which I find to resonate with me as I do believe that one’s relationship to the world begins from the inside."Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."- Eleanor Roosevelt