One of things that I am slightly paranoid about is my kids making friends at school. By which I mean them having any friends, not being picky about the friends they have. Maybe it’s a vestige of my time at primary school when I had no friends. Yeah, I literally had no friends, and my sister used to take pity on me and walk around the playground with me. I don’t know why I had no friends because I never had a problem after I hit nine years, though I’m not a font of sociability so maybe that was why.
So yeah, I was anxious about my kids having friends because school is tough enough when you’re a toddler without being achingly lonely on top of it. And I think that in his old school Benji didn’t have any close friends, though later he bonded with another Indian girl even though he didn’t really like her.
At the start of this school year though, Benji very quickly made a friend Jay. And then, another mum latched onto us for playdates and so another friend was made. I learnt a trick then, that you can actually force friendships by throwing kids together often enough. I should have known this considering the phenomenon of “family friends” in India. Although I learnt this trick, I did playdates because I was asked to and don’t think I would have gone through the bother of initiating them. Though I do see how it cements friendships.
So when Mimi started school, I was anxious again. And then she started mentioning names of people. And on her sports day, I realised that these were real people, not someone whose name she made up. And one of them was a little boy Dee who seemed totally into her. Mimi got invited to his birthday party and although she was terribly unwell the previous night, I made it a point to take her because I realised Dee was really fond of her.
When I went in for Mimi’s PTA meeting, her class teacher told me Dee was her friend and they were often seen playing magic together. Dee’s mum told me that she motivates Dee to go to school by saying Mimi will miss him.
Then a couple of days ago when I asked her about Dee she said she wasn’t playing with him. I thought nothing of it, until the next day when I dropped her to kindergarten. Dee saw her and ran towards her. She cut him dead. Just said “no” and turned around. Poor Dee, his face fell and he went back to his mum. Then, when the school bell rang, they ran into class and I watched them from the glass window. Mimi usually sits next to Dee but this time she chose a different seat. I could see Dee sitting opposite her, staring at her plaintively.
And my heart broke a little. Okay a lot.
I thought about Dee the whole day. In evening, I badgered Mimi about him and made her promise she would play with him. V has often told me that I should not interfere too much in the kids’ friendships, and maybe it’s a remnant of my own childhood, but I cannot bear to think of a child being rejected, even if it’s not my child. In the past, Nene has mentioned not playing with certain kids and I always encourage him to include them. He tells me, “Jay said not to play with him” and I say: “Will you do anything Jay tells you to?” and he says: “Yes” though I know it’s not true because he’s a ringleader.
Today Dee’s mum mentioned that Dee said Mimi didn’t want to hold his hand. I said I was so sad that Mimi was like that. She laughed and told me not to worry and Dee also changes his allegience, but that Dee did seem more affected this time. We decided to do a few playdates to help them renew their friendship.
It’s still I know, but Dee is a sweet kid. He has an innocence about him, and though initially I wanted Mimi to have a friend, now I just want her to be his friend.