One area where I am beginning to see Cupcake blossom is in the area of friendships. It's been a long road, and we haven't arrived yet, but we've been taking some giant leaps in the right direction.
In the world of "hard places", peers are seen not so much as playmates, but more as competition. One day, years ago, Cupcake and I looked at a picture of the kids in her orphanage. There were 2 girls and a boy, along with Cupcake. It had been a small group home. As I pointed to the girls and named them, I asked her if she missed her friends. She turned in anger and cried, "They were not my friends!"
I had always thought that the kids in an orphanage would stick together for self-protection. Some do. But the reality is that orphans are literally all alone in this world.
Let the gravity of that truth settle in your soul.
The concepts of friendship and mutual enjoyment of a relationship were not even on the radar screen. There was no foundation on which to build friendships.
How does a child overcome that kind of deficit?
At first, Cupcake had no use for peers. She was always attracted to adults or teens (especially pretty ones). At times, she was able to relate to older or younger kids (and always babies), but kids her own age...nothing. She has had some very good neighbor friends (thanks to their patience, maturity, and forgiveness), but relationships with the kids in school...no connection. In Kindergarten, friendship was a foreign concept. In First Grade, she tried to have friends (subordinates, really), but they didn't quite know what to do with her powerful personality. Second grade brought her one faithful friend, but she didn't live nearby, so they never got together outside of school. That brings us to this year.
All of a sudden, we have turned a corner! After almost 5 years of steady coaching on the normal give-and-take of friendships, something clicked. This year, she has 3 very good friends in her class. They invite her for playdates! They regularly come to our house. They like her! She likes them! It's awesome! :-D All four girls are best buddies with each other.
I have noticed that the sweet, perfect-family, picket-fence-living girls tend to avoid my baby, and sometimes, they're downright mean to her. (I'm sure they've been on the receiving end of her meanness, as well.) She can't relate to them. They can't relate to her.
But these girls, all three come from their own hardship. They understand that life can be tough. Each girl has depth of character. They all live lives of grace, ready to forgive and move on after a mess-up - not expecting perfection, but anticipating reconciliation. We could all learn a lesson from them.
I can't tell you how thankful I am that these girls have entered our lives! They are each a special blessing!
And I am so proud that my daughter is able to maintain friendships, even when I'm not there to coach!
How about you? Are friendships hard for your kids? What have you done to help foster genuine friendship?
Blessings to you,
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