One of the things that occupied a great part of my mind on Tuesday, was a piece of news we got from some friends and neighbors of ours, parents of T.'s BFF (best friend forever) from school, S. S., they told us, wouldn't be coming back to T.'s school this fall. The news hit me like a ton of bricks, and my heart plunged for T., for she dearly loves her friend S. This news would be, I just knew, one of the first major friend-related disappointments of her young life.
Later, after dinner, when L. had bounded away from the table, I took T. onto my lap. We told her the news, that S. would still be her good friend, but that she wouldn't be coming back to school this fall. T. listened for a few seconds, processing the news, letting the words take shape and meaning in her head, and then she burst into tears--sad, heavy tears, the kind of tears that are so painful for a parent to bear. It was all I could do not to sob right along with T., which I knew from past experience, just wouldn't help matters much. I held her, and let her cry her broken heart into my t-shirt.
To help T. talk about her sadness, we've been reading books about the topic of friends--friends moving, and friends leaving. T. learns a lot from books. Unlike her brother, who focuses more on the concrete when he reads (and is able to learn in different ways from the reading process), T. has always, from a young age, been able to connect herself in more abstract ways with the book we're reading. She is very quick to comprehend the broader subject of a book, the connections within a story. So this week I scoured our own bookshelves, and hit the library in search of some good books for T. on friendship and friends.
Here are some of the books we've read so far:
Franklin's Bad Day, by Paulette Bourgeois. T. loves Franklin, and I have a soft spot for that green turtle myself. Franklin's Bad Day is all about how Franklin processes his own anger over his friend Otter leaving, as he learns that friendship can live on even over a great distance.
We Are Best Friends, by Aliki (not me!). This is a sweet book T. and I picked up at the library about a best friend moving away--it's easy to read, and clearly written--plus the writer and I share a name! If you like We Are Best Friends, you can also check out the sequel, Best Friends Together Again.
Half a World Away, by Libby Gleeson. I really liked this one and the pictures are beautiful and so charming. The book is about two children who share so much in common--the games they play, the dreams they dream, the things they imagine. Then, sadly, one moves far away, and they must find new ways to stay in touch.
Henry & Mudge, the First Book. I love, love, love Henry & Mudge. This book isn't about a friend moving schools, or moving away, but it is about attachment, and about how two friends--one a dog, and one a boy--are separated, and then find each other again.
Kevin Henkes' Chester's Way is a wonderful book about friendship, and about how sometimes it's okay to be a little flexible when it comes to friends. I particularly like this book because it encourages children to move away from the classic "best friend" model of friendship, to one that embraces a child having more than one close friend.
T. is lucky, in that her BFF S. isn't moving away from the neighborhood, just to a new school. And although it's hard for T. to imagine her day without S., at least she doesn't have to imagine her life without her. If your child is facing a separation from a close friend, head to the library to find some good books you can share together (I asked our librarian and she was happy to help). You can also visit this link here, for some suggestions on what to do when friends have to say goodbye--even if just for a little while.