Today Lily and Olivia played hostess to a little friend from down the street. Her grandmother and I were next-door neighbors for many years when we lived in our old house (I was her kids’ “white grandma”), and still enjoy running back and forth, although I’m not comfortable walking the eight houses’ distance in my nightgown, as I did from one house to the next.
Olivia is just a few months older than Kora, and they play so beautifully together. Nobody needs to be the “boss”, no one needs to be “in charge” — they simply enjoy each other’s company. I often took Olivia over to play after the girls got out of preschool, and before Lily came home. Lily complained bitterly about Olivia having Kora all to herself while Lily was at school, even though I reminded her that she had all her school friends to play with and Olivia would be home alone otherwise.
Today Kora came to our house to play, and as summer vacation is in full swing, both Lily and Olivia were home. The vibe was different from the moment they picked her up at her house and walked home together. Lily was clearly the leader, and the afternoon’s play would be two against one. Olivia, of course, alternated between trying to snatch back her leadership position and crying disconsolately because “Kora isn’t my best friend anymore; she’s Lily’s best friend!” And while I’m all for helping the girls through the minefields that are girls’ relationships with their friends, I quickly tired of playing mediator and tear-wiper.
The girls all made it through the afternoon with no permanent harm done, but I think next time I’ll find Lily something else to do and leave the younger ones free to pay their games their own way. The older I get, the more I hate conflict, especially conflict between the girls and their own best friends (each other).
May you always play happily with your best friend.