And then they were friends.

It happened one night in the backyard. They began playing together in the grass like brightly colored buttons sewn on a piece of cloth. It’s funny and lovely to watch a group of young children begin to make friends. They start by cautiously circling one another, tattling because she took his toy or he pushed her on the slide. But before long their similarity in size and passion for climbing and screaming unites them, and they are suddenly a moving, breathing blob of kidness, all grass-stains, tangles and cracker crumbs, telling each other secrets and making up stories and sparring with makeshift swords. Meanwhile, their parents are drinking wine and talking about politics and money on the porch. It happens all by itself, like magic.

 I enjoy watching it unfold, as if I’m looking through a portal in time. Last summer, these same children were unconsciously playing in the same general vicinity, with only tears or shrieks when someone else came too near. This summer, they are preschoolers. They have discovered that they are not alone and run about together putting leaves into cups. They set up house under a tree and scratch around the roots with sticks. It is a fragile fraternity, however. They can instantaneously go from holding hands to scratching and flailing on the ground, if we aren’t watching.

 My 3-year-old is usually the antagonist, but that night he was wearing only a shirt, his curls still wet from the pool, and he found a playmate with long brown hair and one earring like a pirate, and they played so close to one another in the dirt that their arms were touching, even though he was a boy and she was a girl. Ella. Earlier that same day Jack raced her older sister to the pool, pressing their bodies like cookie cutters against the sky and feeling weightless for a split second before crashing into the water. Lily. Woodland sprites with long beautiful hair, noses covered in freckles painted with the teeniest, tiniest brush. Watching the other kids jump, dipping toes cautiously into the shallow end is Joe, a boy with the bluest eyes, who already takes care of all the others, standing vigilant against danger.

 With these friends, I am beginning to see the makings of a childhood that Jack will remember all of his life. I imagine it will look like this night: Playing outside until it gets dark, creating whole kingdoms out of dirt. Coming inside for a bath with so many mosquito bites you can’t see where one ends and another begins. A tiny bit of sunburn on shoulders where the hours of pool-time took their toll. Heavy eyes while being tucked into bed and taking a last sip of milk, sucking on fingers and distractedly murmuring about “space planets” streaking across the dark sky. I’m pretty sure he will dream about running far and fast because when you’re little, your feet have wings.

 Childhood is over too soon, but sometimes, the friends last. I hope these friends will make life sweet for one another. I hope they make mischief of one kind or another and take fantastic voyages that end up right back in their cozy bedroom. I hope they never have bigger problems than who is first in line at the slide. Like the quote by Anais Nin, I hope they learn that each friend “represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.” I do know one thing for certain, as much as my weary body creaks in protest. I know they’ll all wake up tomorrow morning at dawn, ready to do it all again. 

11 thoughts on “And then they were friends.

  1. Wow!! Andrea! This post completely brought tears to my eyes!!! You are a BEAUTIFUL WRITER!!! I felt like this was the first two pages of a book I REALLY WANT TO READ! Your ability to paint a scene for me in the sweetest of ways… wow, just wow!! I’m a HS buddy of Erik’s 😀 He shared your blog, and I’m so glad he did! Following you now! 😀 I’m going to share too!

    • Thank you so much, Nikki! Your kind words mean more than you know. I’m so glad you connected with it. So you and Erik were pretzels together? I must know more! 🙂

      • Yes; he wasn’t kidding!! It’s a real HS mascot! haha He was a great guy, and I’m so glad he found a great girl!! PS your kids are gorgeous!! 😀 We’re FB friends, so I get to all their cutie pie pics! 😀

  2. As always, I’m a FAN!!!! I love to read your writings. It makes me sad that I am not closer to Jack, and that I’ve never met Reese. It also takes me back to two very special little girls and their friends, and their sheltie Mac. Backyards, Sunday afternoons after church, playtime, lightning bugs and a play-house.
    You are ‘spot-on’ when you say that ‘childhood is over too soon’, and understand when I say to you, that you don’t even realize this completely yet, and you will not for years to come, and that is a good thing.
    When Savannah had her tonsils out a month ago, it was an honor to be her mother and her caregiver. They will always be your babies, always.
    From this mom, who now watches through fb, and hours away in distance, her babies continuing to grow and make their mark in this world, it is enchanting to follow your writings, and drift back if only for a moment to that special place and time. Tears. 😉

    • Tracy, you make ME cry! Do you know that you are an amazing writer yourself? What can I do to convince you to share your words with the world? Thank you for reading and for always putting my current craziness in perspective so wisely and sweetly. One day, Jack and Reese will show up on your doorstep for the summer. Not kidding.

  3. What a lovely read. I’m glad Erik shared. You’re right-childhood goes by quickly, but I’m really enjoying watching my kids grow into young people. There are so many beautiful seasons in life, and I’m glad you’re able to look at them and appreciate them. So many people waste that time by wishing it away, either “I can’t wait for them to grow up” or “Oh, they’re growing so fast. I wish they were little again.” Our gifts from God are wonderful when they’re little, they’re wonderful when they’re in elementary school, and they’re even wonderful when they hit the tumultuous pre-and teen age years.
    ~Lynne

    • What a great reminder to value and not fear each season. That is so encouraging as I look forward to / sometimes dread the kids growing up. I appreciate you reading. 🙂

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