Wednsday night. long after the boys went to bed, J and I were sitting on the couch watching tv when we heard the pitter patter of feet slowly trudging down the stairs. A sniffle followed, ending in a sad sigh. We looked up at the stairs to see Ashe walking down the stairs, tears in his eyes. When we asked him what was the matter, he tearily told us that today, his best friend C told him that they weren't friends anymore.
Since the beginning of kindergarten, Ashe and C have been tight. I mean soul mate tight. C was the only girl in class who was as much of a video game junkie as Ashe was. In fact, I have had several conversations with C's mom, alleviating her fears that C would grow up with no friends because she is such a tom boy. I made it crystal clear that a gamer girl was going to be one of the coolest kids as she grew up, because she would have a ton of guy friends who would become like her big brothers.
Ashe and C loved Zelda. Ashe and C loved Mario. Ashe and C loved lots of things that many other kids didn't. One day, when I took Ashe over to C's house for a play date, he brought his Link doll with him, because he wanted to show it to her. When C opened the door, she was holding the exact same doll in her hand.
When Ashe had his birthday party, he invited C and one other friend, E, from school. When C had her birthday party, Ashe was the only one from school that was invited. C's mom and I used to joke that they really were soul mates.
So when Ashe came downstairs on the verge of tears, my heart tore in two. This was a situation that I know is common as kids learn to navigate friendships. And it was bound to come up one day. But to have it be C, his bestest friend, and not some other child, was a very hard blow. We knew something must have been going on, because over the last two weeks, when we asked Ashe what he did during recess, he would say that he played alone. When asked why, he said that C and the other kids were pretending to play "Skylander" and he wasn't interested in joining. J even contemplated buying the game, just so that Ashe could play it and join in, but Ashe was adamant that Skylander was not something he was interested in.
The story comes out that C was insistent that she wanted to play Skylander every recess and Ashe was insistent that he didn't want to join. So they each would go their separate ways. And this day, C decided that since their "hobbies" diverged away from one another, they were no longer friends. And Ashe kept silent about it all day, until he lay in bed at night, and reality came crashing down on him.
The day your child comes home and tells you he lost his good friend is going to break your heart. I like C's mom a lot, and still I felt the maternal urge to call her up at 10 pm and cry out "Your child broke my child's heart over a flipping video game!!!" It's a natural mother bear instinct to shelter your children from the harsh lessons that life has to offer, even to the six year olds, even when you know logically that the other parents have nothing to do with what transpires.
So instead, J and I sat down and brought him up to cuddle with us on the couch late at night. And we told him that we hurt with him, as we knew how good of friends the two of them had been. But then we started asking about his other friends. What about E? Or W? Tell us about them. So he did.
He told us how that very day, E had made him a paper laptop as a gift. Ashe even got a yellow bucket (le sigh) because she whispered to him during silent time what he wanted on it, and he whispered back. And how W sent him his phone number, and the two of them were excited to get together for a play date over summer vacation.
Within ten minutes, Ashe went from feeling really hurt, to realizing that he has some great friends still. And sure, they may like different things, but that doesn't mean that they can't be friends. And Ashe started to cherish what he did have, friends who liked him for who he was, not what he played.
I know over the years to come we will have similar conversations, both with Ashe and the other boys. It's a rite of passage for kids to go through it again and again. And it sucks, every time. But in the long run, I hope, that they realize that some friendships will come and go, but the true friendships will last over time, no matter what.