Today I got to "play" with a friend. We sat, talked and sipped seltzer for a couple of hours while our kids played in the pool. We discussed what we've been doing, where we've been, what we've seen and read and general philosophies of life. We laughed, commiserated, cheered and supported. What a rare treat! I don't live a Wisteria Lane existence where desperate housewives are always dropping in for card games, coffee and gossip. Good quality friend time is infrequent, and it got my thinking about friendships in general.
Making friends was easy in school. I'm not sure how elementary age kids do it. I couldn't remember my own experiences, so I asked Pipsqueak how she picks kids as friends. She replied, "When they start being nice to me, I decide I want to be friends with them." Somehow, I think it's more than that... some sort of initial attraction. I don't know if it's something physical or a common way of communicating, but somehow kids seem drawn to certain kids and not to others. For little extroverts, like Pipsqueak, ice breaking is never a problem. She unselfconsciously introduces herself and asks the potential friend's name. Before you know it, they're running around giggling like they've been friends since birth.
In high school and college, we tend to make friends with those that have common interests. I spent most of my time with kids in band and drama. This is the time that friendships grow deeper. Friends don't play together anymore, but spend time talking and sharing secrets, hopes, desires and fears. These friendships often last a lifetime. I have friends from school that I still consider very good friends even though we may only be in contact once or twice a year or less. Some of these friendships started in elementary school, but deepened in high school.
Once married and with a family, making friends gets complicated. First, we tend to be a little more self conscious and reserved as adults. Secondly, it's difficult to find time to spend with friends. We have work and responsibilities, and any free time is spent with our children. It makes us choosier friend pickers. We want to spend our precious friend time with people that make us laugh and feel good, and not with complainers and downers.
It's easier to get together as families, but that opens another whole can of worms. If I make friends with the woman of the family, then I also have to like spending time with her husband, my husband has to like spending time with her and her husband, our kids have to like spending time together, and we adults have to like the behavior of each other's children. That kind of family harmony is difficult to find.
Every New Year's, I make a resolution to spend more time with friends, yet it's an impossible to resolution to measure it's success or failure. Do I measure it in quantity of time, quantity of friends or quality. I resolve not to make that resolution any more, but just to appreciate the time I do spend with friends, those emails back and forth, and the Christmas greetings that may be our only contact but lets each other know that we are thinking of one another.