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Friendship and the Basic Rudiments

A Budding Friendship

My daughter told me about a touching conversation that took place between Lars and Cole, my two grandsons, during a recent visit. Lars, five years old and big for his age, was visiting and playing with Cole, who is three years old.

Like all younger kids, Cole considers it a big deal to spend time with his older cousin and is aware that Lars is bigger and stronger. Though Lars is older, he’s very respectful of Cole, and they play well together. In my my daughter’s words:

Dad, yesterday, Lars came by for a visit and then stayed over. It was the last chance for him and Cole to be together before we left for the holidays. They played all day and had a lot of fun. Later that night, they were tucked into bed and stayed up talking for a time. Here’s part of the conversation they had just before falling asleep.

Lars:  Tell your mom to go to TJ Maxx and get you some Hulk  or Spiderman pajamas.

Cole:  My mom says I can’t go there.

Lars:  Why?  It’s really close.  You can also go to Home Depot. That’s where you can buy houses.

Cole:  When I asked my mom for a present she said no because presents are only for special days like birthdays or Christmas.

Lars:  I work for my mom to get money.  I worked with her today and she gave me five dollars.

Cole:  I wish it was my birthday again so I could be four years old.  Then I would be closer to your age.

Lars:  But then I would be six.

Cole:  Then I wish I was five.

Lars:  But then I would be seven.

Cole:  Will I ever grow up to be your size?

Lars:  Maybe when you’re a grown-up.

Then silence, and the boys finally fell asleep.  Precious!

From a friendship perspective, I find this exchange between Cole and Lars both touching and fascinating. They are already demonstrating the kind of communication that can lead to a lifelong friendship.

The first part of the conversation is typical kids’ stuff. They exaggerate; they discuss superhero clothing; they share their desire for gifts and toys; and finally, they face the reality of the limits on those desires.

However, the conversation then goes to a more emotional level when Cole admits to Lars how much he wants to be as old and as big as him. He even fantasizes out loud about having an extra birthday or two to achieve that.

Lars, not quite getting that Cole wants an extra birthday, logically points out that if Cole had another birthday he himself would also have one and so things would stay the same. Cole patiently repeats the wish and Lars gently repeats his answer.

At this point, letting go of his fantasy, Cole plaintively wonders out loud if there is any hope of ever growing to Lars’ size, and Lars lovingly leaves the door open for hope down the road.

These exchanges are deceptively important. Such communication will, over time, lead to an immense level of trust between my grandsons. And isn’t this what we all want in a friendship? Someone who is empathetic, supportive and honest?

What my daughters and I hope is that Lars’ and Cole’s associations and experiences with other boys over the coming years will not lead to emotional hardening and a rejection of these vulnerable and supportive exchanges. They’re the stuff of lasting friendships.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to post it by clicking on the comments link below.