Growing up I had many, many best friends over the years. I’m sure we all did. They say that kids can be some of the most incredibly cruel people on the planet and I’m going to have to say that I agree with that assessment sometimes. I have had the unfortunate displeasure to have come into contact with a few of them and at the time, they were supposed to be my best friend.
In elementary school my best friend was out for several days having her tonsils removed. The day she returned I was so happy to see her and couldn’t wait until Recess Time to hang out with her on the swings and laugh together again.
She had brought a piece of candy for Recess Time that day and she handed it to me with great flourish. I was so happy she was going to share her GooGoo Cluster with me!
But that wasn’t the plan.
She told me to open it and break off small pieces for her to eat when she finished jumping rope with the other girls. I was not to eat any of it. She was very clear about that. Her mother said she was not to share her candy with anyone, not even with me.
I stood there, on the playground, with this candy in my hand and each time she ran over to me I would break off a piece of the lovely chocolate covered caramel with the peanut clusters, and I would hand it to her. Never once taking a bit for myself. Not even licking my fingers afterwards for fear she would see me do it and hate me for it.
After that day I never wanted to play with her again. The humiliation and the rejection stung like a hornet. I remember crying in the Cloak Room when I went to hang up my coat.
Kids can be so cruel to each other sometimes.
When I was a teenager I had another best friend. We weekended at each other’s houses. I stayed at her house more than she stayed at mine because I lived in the middle of a forest and she lived in the city where we could go to the movies and get a burger much easier.
After many months hanging out together she began telling me she couldn’t have me over for the weekend. Then she told me she couldn’t come to my house for the weekend either. I asked her why. She said her mother told her that she needed to start thinking of her future and her future would require a “better class of friends”. I didn’t know what that meant and she either couldn’t really explain it to me, or she didn’t want to explain it to me because she started crying.
I did not cry though. It was a long time before the full meaning of what she said to me actually made sense. I didn’t dwell on it too much though.
Sometimes kids are extremely resilient, no matter what you throw at them.
In my twenties this girl’s parents befriended me. They had become newly found potheads and I guess they experienced some kind of epiphany, but they told me that out of all of their daughter’s friends, I was the most responsible and the most mature. They would call and invite me over to dinner and even hired me to work part time at their rental plant business.
I wasn’t fond of watering plants in office buildings, besides I already knew that my relationship with her parents was only temporary. I don’t know if it was something I needed to prove to myself, or to them, but I was certain that keeping my distance from them and never allowing them to get too close to me was probably a good idea. I knew that I would never be “best friends” with them, or with their daughter ever again. You see, I never forgot that phone call with their daughter and I never forgot what they said about me. So when the time came I just stopped taking their calls.
I wanted a better class of friends too, but my class of friends didn’t include people that were so quick to judge a child and cut that child out of their lives, simply because they felt the child was unworthy or less than they thought themselves to be.
You might think kids aren’t listening when you say stuff, but they are and when they get older you just might end up eating your own words. Kids become adults and their memories are a lot more accessible than yours are.
In your day to day life if you come into contact with children, be mindful of how you treat them and be mindful of how they treat others. Children can grow up to be wonderful adults, or they can be monsters, but it is our responsibility to instill in them values that include all walks of life, not just the ones we think are the best.
Children aren’t born to be mean.
Whether or not they intend to, adults can make them that way.