We moved to a new house in a new city almost two years ago, when our son was five and our daughter still an infant. After five years in the same house, we had many dear friends from our neighborhood, church, and playgroups. Our dear boy had made lots of buddies in each of these circles, plus some at his preschool, and as our moving day approached, we watched him closely to see how he was handling everything. He’s a bright, insightful, sensitive kid, and naturally he expressed sadness over leaving. There was no anger, though, no resentment, no fear that he let us see. He took it amazingly in stride and also took comfort in knowing that we were only moving two hours away.
We have seen him take on several challenges since we’ve moved: starting a new school, and making the jump from going three half-days a week to going all day, every day; skipping a grade (kindergarten); speech competitions; spelling bees; being in a different class than some of his friends for this most recent school year, to name a few. We have seen him handle each of these remarkably well for such a little guy. Of course he has not been void of emotion, but my husband and I have been a bit surprised at his seemingly stoic responses.
Just this week, our sweet second-grader found out that one of his good friends, a classmate, is moving about 11 hours away. I knew a few days before he found out, but I wanted him to hear it first from his friend. He told his dad and I that he knew about this upcoming move, the other night before bedtime. He said it quietly, and didn’t volunteer any more information. I gently asked him, as neutrally as possible, if he felt excited for his friend’s move or sad that she (yes, she) would be gone, or perhaps a little of both. “A little of both, I guess…” he said in the same quiet, reserved tone. Having heard for the whole school year how much he has enjoyed her conversation and her companionship on the playground, at lunch, in class, I knew it had to have some sizable effect on him. I looked at him, laying in his bed, and I know he probably doesn’t think I noticed, but I saw his eyes get misty.
As a mother, it’s always hard to see one’s children sad or disappointed. There was a moment, then, that I knew I had to seize–to let him know that it was all right and normal to feel sad that his friend was moving, but also to remind him that if that friendship is good, true, and begun by God, then there’s no reason to think that they will stop being friends! He looked up at me when I said these things and a bright smile took over his face. He got excited about the idea of being pen pals after the move takes place.
We can’t keep our children sheltered from challenges, disappointments, or sadness. We shouldn’t try to, either. In those few minutes before we tucked him in that night, we saw the beauty of friendship summed up in both his sadness and also his hope from the idea of staying in touch. True, they won’t get to run around together on the playground next school year, or sit at the same lunch table, but as long as they both are willing, there are seemingly countless ways they can still share laughs and news. Yes, they are little kids. And yes, one or both of them might start thinking the opposite sex is too “weird” to be good buddies anymore. For now, though, I feel nothing but gratitude and gladness that God has given our son such a sweet friend, one whose absence meant enough to him to get him teary-eyed. May we all be so blessed to have friendships that are good and true, whether near or far.