Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A friend is a gift you give to yourself

Our friendships feed, nurture, comfort and often, at least partially, define us from the time we toddle through the time we creak. As a child, it's hard to imagine that a particular friend or group of friends will not be in your life forever but as adults we know that circumstances change, people change and so do friendships. As parents, it can be difficult to witness your child's confusion as friends and friendships change - easy to empathize but challenging to explain and fix. So what do you do when your child's friend pulls away from him or when your child starts to pull away from someone else? When our children feel left out or left behind by a friend, we try to reinforce the importance of their other friends, we suggest that maybe it's a temporary break, we try to explain that things change and it's not always fun or easy. When our children cause someone else to feel left out or left behind, we remind them how they felt when it happened to them and remind them of the importance of treating people the way they want to be treated. There's no easy answer though, is there? Let's face it, many of us still mourn the loss of particular friendships from way back when or at least think about them periodically and wonder what happened. Why do you think there's so much adult stalking happening on Facebook? Friends come and go and people do change but it's important to remember that every true friendship is a gift to be appreciated for as long as it lasts. It is also important to remember that we keep the best parts of those friendships with us and that each friendship over the years has helped define the people we become.
It's not an easy lesson to teach a 6, 10 or 13 year old but the positive message - that you were lucky to have had this friendship and to have gotten from it what you did  - is no less important.

I work with the most amazing young woman who brings sunshine to our office every day, regardless of the weather outdoors. She is responsible for our examination library, which means she is the first to see each new book as it comes in. She always displays two picture books at the reception desk and changes the display every few days.She has amazing instincts and a knack for selecting the greatest books to display. Truth be told, I'm blogging tonight about friendship because she recently selected a book that touched my heart and I wanted to share it - Oliver Jeffers' Up and Down.

This sequel to the equally enchanting Lost and Found is a wonderful story, so beautifully illustrated, about the power of friendship, the need to do some things on your own and reaching for your dreams.I love this book! It's yet another picture book that can be appreciated and cherished by people of all ages.

If your child is into knee-slapping funny books about friendship, especially friendships between hysterically unlikely duos, try reading Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's Cowboy and Octopus.

If your young adult (at the younger end of young adult, I think) wants to follow friendships through a series, consider The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and the Olympians (or the newest Rick Riordan series to enchant my children, The Heroes of Olympus, beginning with The Lost Hero).

The friendship between Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh is one that has meant the world to me forever and from their story, I borrow the following words, dedicated to all my friends, past, present and future,

If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together...there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you.


  1. very true and touching. always your friend, even from Israel.

  2. I am very, very lucky to have the gift of great friends.