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Time for making friendships and making mistakes

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Diary of a Mothering Worker - Entry 98
By children playing in school, they practise the complex emotions and skills compelled by social interaction.

When she gets angry at Stone or me, Ziya’s latest response is to announce that she’s not our friend. ‘You can be your own friend!’ she declared before hunching her shoulders and stomping off after I quarreled with her. “Daddy is not being my friend,” she accused on another occasion, giving him the look of the wounded and betrayed when she didn’t get her way. 


Yes, my baby is in school, practising the complex emotions and skills compelled by social interaction. Friendship, and all that it means, has clearly become a hugely important source of connection and negotiation. 


Every afternoon on our way home, as I ask her about her day, we talk about who she played with at lunchtime and what they did together. Young and Restless has nothing on the tribulations of this three year old. Some days, some of the girls include her as their friend, some days not. Some days, she says she played by herself because everyone already had a friend. Some days, she finds someone else to play with. 


In her circles, friendships are made and broken, alliances established and renegotiated, sides chosen and then switched with the vigour of UN Security Council horse-trading over Syria. Forget high school. If you thought that a preschool playground was about play, think again. 


This is where Zi most figures out who she is, how she should or shouldn’t behave, what feelings she should articulate and to whom, and how to survive hurt, healing and tough love, which after all is the way of the world.



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