I've written many times before about the daunting task of raising children without a owner's manual. Lately, I've been reflecting on my life and analyzing why things turned out the way they did so that I can choose what I would like to so differently (or not) for my children. While the focus in parenting conversations with other couples usually turns to educational opportunities, I often think of the importance of socialization. I must attribute this to a few influential people in my life.
One of my personal struggles is in this social relationship world. While I have several close friends, each of these friends has usually been in a direct relationship with me, it hasn't been a friend-group type of scenario. I can basically trace this "social-history" back to my middle school days. In those days, I developed some great friends, who are my friends to this day, but there began a disconnect in the 8th grade when ballet became the focus of my after school and weekend activities. Then, after middle school, I went away to boarding school, so those relationships became rather distant. You might think that a boarding school scenario would be great for building friendships, but my schedule was different from everyone else's in that my parents insisted that I return home every weekend. So there again there was a disconnect for me, I was not part of the relaxing weekend- social scene of my high school, nor was I really a part of the life of the old friends I would occasionally visit back at home. The old soul I have always been, I became friends with some of the dorm supervisors and teachers. From there, I quit ballet and returned home. My friends were seniors in high school, but I had graduated early so had to dive into college. I took off for a year studying and traveling in Europe, and then I transfered as a junior to Davidson College. Most students spend their junior year abroad which meant I arrived on a campus with most of my class missing. So I befriended mostly sophomores, who left the following year when I got to meet my class-but it was a little late for the traditional college bonding opportunities. I'm not writing this to complain or rant in any way, just an expository description of how my life developed. All this to make the observation that I really hope that my children can have more continuity in their social relationships. I know girls who now go on trips with their high school buddies, etc and I want my kids to have those kind of life-long relationships. I watched my younger sister go to an all-girls high school (with many of the girls she'd gone to school with since pre-school) and saw that even while they've all gone away to different colleges those bonds will hold.
The longest standing friendships I do have, I can trace to elementary school, can you identify the four people who are in both of these photos? (One taken in high school, the other taken last month.)