I was blessed – in more ways than I can count – to give birth first to a boy and then to a girl. It wouldn’t have mattered to me what their gender was, but it was a gift to have both in my life, and to observe, from the very subjective vantage point of a mother, how very different little boys and little girls can be.
Their birthday parties were always the very best place to observe the differences. When the house was filled with a whole herd of boys, the ambience was loud and the mood jolly and energetic. There were lots of farts and guffaws and good-natured roughhousing. Occasionally, some boy would go too far; another boy would lash out and the first boy would be loudly crying as I, cross and exasperated, waded into the fray to separate them before blood was drawn. The fights never lasted, though, and within minutes, the boys would good-naturedly return to normal, the fight forgotten. I cherished every single second of those birthday parties.
My daughter’s birthday parties were always quite different. The girls would happily gather around the kitchen table to quietly and thoughtfully work on some craft that I had prepared (I prepared crafts for the boys, too, but they often left their work half completed as some other ‘thing’ caught their interest). The girls rarely spilled their juice or got cake on the floor. And every single party was punctuated with a fight where some little girl went upstairs to cry and sulk; several little girls rushed up to comfort her and a third gaggle of girls huddled together downstairs to commiserate with the girl who had started it all.
Over the years, I couldn’t help but notice that from kindergarten to high school, my son’s friends were the same group he had known since his first day of school, whereas my daughter’s friends came and went with dismaying regularity. My daughter, like her mother, is an introvert, and making friends was never an effortless process for her. I quietly mourned every group of little girls that came and went into my daughter’s life.
If you have been following my blog lately, you might know that I have been using the social distancing time of the Covid 19 virus to painstakingly go through every single memento I have ever kept from this rather inconsequential life of mine.
And I am perplexed – nay, completely exasperated with myself – at the number of things I have kept which cut me to the core every time I look at them. Like the photo I found this morning of S_. She and I were friends back in Grade 4. She was not my first ‘best friend’, but she seemed to be the first best friend who might actually stick around. I was doomed – throughout my childhood – to latch on to best friends who kept moving away.
S_ was different: I just knew she wouldn’t move away and therefore; we would be best friends forever. I loved her like only a woman who has had a best friend in Grade 4 can understand. We both had a crush on Donny Osmond. We were in the same class at school. She was pretty; I was goofy. We were a match made in heaven.
Until Grade 5, when C_ came along.
C_ was tall. She was carelessly pretty. She was cool. She had presence; charisma. She swore like a sailor and an admirable assortment of uncouth expressions regularly slipped off her tongue like prize jewels. Even the boys acknowledged her superiority in every game and playground discussion.
I didn’t stand a chance. S_ left me for her without so much as looking back. I was crushed. Grade 5 was the hardest and loneliest year of my childhood.
I found a picture of me and S_ today. You know the kind that you take in those photo booths; the kind that come in long strips of four photos? The kind where you smile prettily in the first shot and make a really goofy face by the time you get to the fourth shot?
And my heart broke all over again, the hurt as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
This time, though, I gave the photo a little kiss and I gently set it aside. When this clean-up of mine has reached its completion, I will burn it, once and for all, along with any other photos (or letters, or mementos) that I find during this pandemic clean-up of mine that do not fill my heart with a surge of joy.
I have held onto that hurt long enough and it’s more than time to let it go…
S_, I loved having you for a friend. And I sincerely hope you have had a happy life out there… xoxo
Source of Photo: me, Grade 4
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com