So, the other day I wrote about G’s big leap forward with his social skills. Here’s Part Two of the story– which in many ways is much better than Part One, because Part Two is in G’s own words.
Every day for two weeks, G has been working on a paper version of the Friend File. He knows that most people keep “friend files” in their brain… but he enjoyed the experience of befriending some new kids so much, I think he doesn’t want to forget how to do it.
I’m so moved by what he wrote on these pages. Most of us have an intuitive sense about how to make a new friend. We recognize that social exchanges require effort, but we know how to do it. We learn from experience that initiating contact with someone new can make us feel awkward or uncertain, but we are motivated by the potential of a new connection. Maybe the new kid in my class will end up being my best friend– I won’t know til I talk to him. A new family is moving in next door. Maybe they’ll have a kid my age. I can’t wait to find out. Those first few conversations can be unnerving, but we trust we’ll ask the right question eventually that will lead us to common ground– a shared interest, similar taste in music or books, a mutual passion for some activity or hobby. It’s a challenging process, but there’s nothing mysterious about it.
I get the sense from reading G’s “friend file”papers, that there is something magical about turning a stranger into a friend– almost like turning straw into gold. Something ordinary can inexplicably become something wonderful and priceless. And, now that I think about it… while there is nothing mysterious to me about initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know… I find G’s reverence and awe towards the whole experience to be beautiful. True friendship is a gift, something to be treasured. For me personally, I’m about to leave home for a month to work at sleep-away camp. (More about that later!). I’m about to enter into a situation where I’ll be meeting about a thousand new people… each and every one of them is a potential friend. While I don’t plan to write up a hard-copy of a friend file, I do want to learn from my wonderful son. I’ll be on the look-out this summer for some new friends. I’d like to enter each new encounter inspired by G’s sense of wonder.
Without further ado… The Friend Files… by G