Friendship, as defined by a toddler

Monday, June 13, 2011

I introduced John Paul to the concept of "friends" back in January or so, right after Cecilia was born.  He had a few new stuffed toys from Christmas, and when I put them all on the couch together ONCE and said, "Look, they're friends!" that was it.  The ONLY friends were these three toys, Elmo, Bear, and Cookie.  In that order.  Only.

It was one of our new best games - John Paul would open up his toybox, take out those three animals, and put them together on various surfaces.  "Ah-mo.  Beah.  Cookie.  Fegs!" 

Then along came a new set of toys - a gifted Duplo set with Buzz and the three-eyed alien from Toy Story.  While he wasn't quite ready for the Duplos (many a tear was shed trying and failing to put them together), the characters were SO fun.  Now we had a new relationship!  "Buzh.  Aween.  Fwegs!"  A new relationship, and a new pronunciation of the word. 

Then one day it occurred to him - if these toys can be friends, maybe PEOPLE can be friends!  And if people can be friends, ANYTHING can be friends!  I see him with a few stacking cups on the floor, putting different combinations together.  "Wed.  Bwoo.  Fwens.  Gween.  Yeh-yo.  Fwens."  And so on and so forth - yet another evolution of the word, both in pronunciation and concept. 

Perhaps the most beautiful moment was when my mom came upstairs while he was eating breakfast one day.  John Paul looked at her, beaming, and took a deep breath, "Gwamma!  Joh Paw!  FWENS!"

He is constantly looking around to observe relationships in the world around him.  "Mom.  Dad.  Fwens.  Mom.  Baby Cee-yah.  Fwens.  Baby Cee-yah.  Dad.  Fwens.  Ham.  Pasta.  Fwens."  (Yes, those were all in the same conversation)  And while the *actual* concept of friendship may not have been mastered yet, I am really enjoying seeing the way he makes sense of the world around him, especially now that he is verbal enough to identify his observations with words. 

Children are so much quicker to label friendships than adults - that kid you just met on the playground whose name you don't know?  Absolutely that is a friend!  But for adults, labeling a person as a friend seems to be a MUCH more serious step.  I'm looking forward to the childlike definitions of friendship continuing for as long as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to several years of John Paul being happy to be my friend, then several years of his being embarrassed at my existence, then many years of our being friends again.

    Come to think of it, Andrew hasn't yet emerged from the second stage.


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