Back-to-school is literally moments away (for us, anyway… the rest of the world is pretty much in full swing), and backpacks, pencil cases, and bento boxes are flying off the shelves. Kids are squeezing in the last chapters of their summer reads, while parents are pulling their hair out making all attempts to nail down their kiddo’s sleep schedule for the school season. All of these are important things to check off our back-to-school lists, but there’s been one thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind with Little Mama starting school…
More importantly, Little Mama‘s ability to learn about the not-so-obvious signs of a great friend. Because as we all know, good friends are hard to come by.
Kindergarten preparedness places so much emphasis on the child’s ability to carry on tasks independently, letter and number recognition, self regulation, and all the basics. And yes, these are all essential life skills to consider. But I’m learning now as a mom and as a woman, that just as important as academic and self care skills, is the ability to nurture relationships. I am still fumbling through life myself, trying to figure out the kind of people I want to surround myself with, let alone my 5 year old child. One thing is for certain – it will continually be a work in progress.
I have been lucky enough to develop and keep life long friendships from my school days and have only endured a couple major heartbreaks in the friendship department. But I am still crossing my fingers that I am equipped enough to give my kiddo the tools to spot a good friendship when it hits her right smack in the heart, and to teach her how to immediately see the signs of a great friend (while learning not to ignore the red flags).
Now that she is entering “big kid” school, I am both excited and nervous to see what life has to offer her. Of course, I have your everyday worries – will she handle the full days okay? Will she thrive? Will she develop a love of learning? Will she listen? Will she speak up? And now – there’s a new dynamic added to the mix that wasn’t as much of a priority in preschool-land… Will she meet good friends that she will have in her life for the next handful of elementary school years?
Learning to deal with different personalities; some – a perfect match, others – a contrast from your own… takes skill. And practice. From my limited experience yet ongoing exposure to a wide variety of personalities – living in a small town in the prairies, to keeping up with the the fast paced core of the big city, to hanging out with laid-back beachcombers, I have to say – it’s never easy to find the right kind of person to become YOUR person. It’s downright hard. And it takes work. Years of it.
So I figure, I would simplify my list to my 5 specific things I look for when developing solid friendships, and I hope my daughter will find her way in this complicated and sometimes heartbreaking world of fairweather friends.
Here is what I want to teach my daughter about the very obvious signs of a great friend…
1:: SIGNS OF A GREAT FRIEND – They Have Your Back
I want to teach my Little Mama that a true friend isn’t just someone who is all grins and giggles, but someone who will have your back when the going gets tough. Unconditional support is essential in any given relationship, and that is definitely a deal breaker in the world of friends. They must have your back at all times. Even if it means they slap you around when you’re losing your marbles and making bad decisions – if your best interest is in mind, they are being an amazing friend.
There are back stabbers and gossipers in the world, and we can’t always avoid it, but a good rule of thumb is – if they have the tendency to bail on, gossip about, or hurt other friends, chances are they will do the same to you. You will never have to worry about watching your back when your friend has your back.
2:: SIGNS OF A GREAT FRIEND – They Keep It Real
When I was in elementary school, often times, I felt like I had to be someone I wasn’t – all in the name of conformity and acceptance. The beauty of a true friendship and one of the most obvious signs of a great friend is when you are completely yourself with that person. No facades, no embellishments – just a pure, raw, openness between two or more great friends simply being themselves.
It is an unbelievable feeling to be accepted for exactly the person you are. Sure, a good friend is someone you can play with, but a GREAT friend is someone who you never have to pretend with.
3:: SIGNS OF A GREAT FRIEND – They Will Give You Space When You Need It
On several occasions near the end of a busy playdate or party, one of Little Mama‘s little friends would run to me feeling slighted that my typically outgoing kiddo was no longer playing with them, on their terms. It was rather mysterious at first, as she was more than thrilled to go along with the masses, but I found that often times, my little girl knew her own limits and adhered to them. I have to say, I have a lot to learn from my 5 year old, as I tend to overextend myself by not being clear with my own boundaries. Learning to say no, is in fact, learning to say yes to yourself. And how amazing is it to actually see my Little Mama make the choice to enjoy her own company after a good dose of group play. Whether it’s pulling out a book and quietly reading it to herself, or peacefully rolling out playdoh while everyone else is playing hide and go seek, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a time out for yourself with yourself.
It was so easy to recognize my most cherished friendships when our family went through our tumultuous moments of loss, respecting our need for privacy while lovingly acknowledging our grief. When we took the necessary time for ourselves and eventually made our way back to reality, there they were, ready and waiting with a warm hug, a hot cup of tea, and a couple tickets to Disneyland. How blessed are we, right? Gah. I still tear up thinking it.
A true, and understanding friend will step back and just get it. They will sense your need for alone time, and not judge you for it. They will accept your needs and patiently wait for you, welcoming you back with open arms when you’re ready to join back in.
4:: SIGNS OF A GREAT FRIEND – They Aren’t Afraid to Show You They’re In It For the Long Haul
Affection and closeness is huge for me when it comes to relationships. If that rings true for mommy and daddy, it should absolutely be true for close relationships that Little Mama will encounter throughout her life. There should be no room for guessing games.
In this world of online communication, sadly, it’s hard to get a genuine and accurate read on people. We hide behind our likes, comments, and overly manicured photos. But like anything else, we have to go with the times and accept the fact that this is one of our main modes of communication with our loved ones. So it’s important that friends check in and remind us that they’re still around. And vice versa. In my relationship with my best friend whom I have known since Grade 1, we have spent most of our adult lives physically distant from one another. Yet, for some miraculous reason, I know what she’s having for dinner tonight. And what her daughter is wearing to her friend’s birthday party. Or an enlightening phrase that her son entertained them during nightly prayers.
We check in. We send our love. We give virtual, emotional, and spiritual hugs. We can barely get a word in edgewise when we’re together or on the phone (Talking on the phone? What’s that??). We enjoy each other. And we show it. In every way possible.
That, my dear friends, is one of the more blatant signs of a great friend. We let each other know that we adore one another.
Because if they already have our heart, why not embrace them with loving arms?
5:: SIGNS OF A GREAT FRIEND – They Encourage You To Be The Best Version of Yourself
Friends should absolutely be the first to boo at your losses, and the first to cheer when you win. When the tornadoes of life comes zipping by, your family and true friends should be the first to roll up their sleeves and help pick up the pieces. I have more than a handful of friends who literally dropped what they were doing to hold my hand, wipe my tears, and help me and my family in turbulent times. It’s mind-boggling that one would settle for anything less than that.
Unfortunately, we often do.
I used to downplay my successes, dim my own light, turn down my normally loud volume, to keep up with a friend that matched my big personality. Forget that jazz! We should be exactly who we are, and be the BEST version of ourselves, with the support of our loved ones. Anyone who can potentially suck away your energy, or give you any reason to downplay your awesomeness… well – they don’t deserve your friendship. One of the more known signs of a great friend is someone who will celebrate your good days and encourage you to keep being the best YOU, you can be.
And what I hope the most for Little Mama, is that she won’t just know the signs of a great friend but be all these things and more, in return.
Like I said, these skills cannot possibly be learned overnight. I’m still learning them, as I write this. At some point, (and I’m certain, many points in her life), Little Mama will experience heartache from someone she once trusted, and I cannot stop this from happening. It’s not feasible, nor is it right for me to intervene. What I do hope, is that I have provided her with the tools to guide her in the right direction so that in moments of disappointment, she can get back on her feet and make room in her heart for new opportunities and growth. To walk away from people who no longer bring joy to her life, and to open her heart for those who do.
And speaking of awesome friends, don’t forget to visit our fabulous co-host of #5faves at The Koala Mom for her list of 5 favorite TV shows! We would love to hear some of YOUR five favorite things too. Link up below!
THE LOOK:: WANT IT? GET IT!
Accessories:: Straw Fedora (similar Goorin Brothers Nateski Fedora here) | Junior backpack (similar Skip Hop Zoo Little Kids and Toddler Backpack, Cat here) | Top:: Long Sleeve Blogger Shirt (similar Epic Threads Girls’ Cat Mask Graphic-Print Long-Sleeve T-Shirt, here) | Bottom:: Joe Fresh Wool Mini Skirt (similar Marni Junior Girls’ Pleated Wool Skirt, here) | Footwear:: Yellow ankle boot (similar Dr. Martens Kid’s Collection Brooklee here) | Bottom Accessories :: Over the Knee Cat Socks (similar Shy Cat Knee Socks here)
Good friends are hard to come by, so when they do, hang on tight!