From the moment your children are born, you try your best as a mother to shield them from the harsh realities of life.
Things go pretty well for a while, that is until kindergarten. Kindergarten is where things start to get real. And sometimes ugly.
My eldest son is now in the equivalent of a US kindergarten class (they have a different name for it in his school) and, apart from the expected reading, writing and arithmetic, he has also been receiving some other, unexpected lessons.
My son is a very energetic, fun loving and intelligent boy. He makes friends pretty easily and is a comedian extraordinaire. At school, he has always been well-known and well-liked. Life was good.
Enter the new kid at school.
The new school year brought with it new children and, apparently, a new rival, we’ll call him Frank. Now, remember, this is kindergarten, so the rivalry is less “punch you in the face” and more “he is a poopy head”. But, Frank is a rival nonetheless.
For the first time, my son is experiencing the fickle nature of humanity. Today they are friends, tomorrow they are not. And when they are not, anyone who chooses to be friends with Frank, will also be on my son’s list.
Frank has even been attracting the attention of some of the girls in the class who were once my son’s “devoted fans” (it is way too soon for all of this).
Even though my son has done a pretty good job in ignoring the rivalry (overall he has impressed me with how mature he is being about the whole issue), I can still tell that, on some days, it bothers him.
I think what bothers him most is that for the first time he can’t seem to figure out how to make this person like him.
Yes, they are “friends” sometimes and that changes as the wind blows, but, for the first time, he has met someone who does not naturally march to the beat of his drum.
For the first time my son is learning that not everyone is going to like him and he cannot force people to like him (something some adults still have not learnt).
Many people still feel the need to do anything to get the validation and admiration of other people. They hover over Facebook and Instagram monitoring their likes, follows, comments and views so that they could feel a false sense of acceptance, importance and happiness.
But these things are not real and do not last.
As my sons get older, I want them to know the joy of genuine friendship. I want them to know that genuine friendship usually comes in smaller numbers and that it is perfectly fine to only have two “ride or die” friends rather than ten “friends” you could never count on or who really don’t have your best interests at heart.
I want my sons to be confident enough to never feel the need to compromise who they are, what they like or their whole belief system just to be accepted into a particular group because by doing this they lose the very things that make them special.
Likewise, I want them to understand that they should never try to change anyone into what they think is “better” and that friendships cannot or should not be strategized.
I imagine in time the rivalry between my son and Frank may disappear and who knows, they may even grow up to be the best of friends later on. But for now, let the life lessons continue.