My little girl is the most sociable creature imaginable. All she has ever wanted is to have friends, people who seek her company and want her around. She’s at home with me when she’s not at school and copes remarkably well with me having to get on with jobs around the house when I can’t play with her, but inside she’s begging for the company.
She has children to play with at nursery school, and my friend has a lovely little one year old she loves but is too small to really play yet, and sometimes her step-brother Z will agree to play with her, but it’s not the same.
But now she has friends.
Because I’m riddled with various anxieties, neuroses and awkwardnesses I do not find making friends easy. Indeed I tend to avoid such things for fear of what it will do to me. I enjoy time by myself and keep the number of people I spend time with regularly down to a minimum for self preservation purposes, and because I’m a natural loner. For this reason I didn’t make many moves towards befriending our neighbour when we first moved in. She seemed lovely and sweet, has two daughters a bit older than Miss Rose, and obviously the proximity makes it a very easy friendship to make. It took me a year. A YEAR.
We started chatting over the fence, both mowing the lawn or pegging out laundry. Then her daughters started chatting to Miss Rose who was beyond thrilled. When one of her chickens escaped into my garden we retrieved him and sent him back. They invited Miss Rose to play on their trampoline one afternoon and the rest, as they say, is history.
Miss Rose now has friends. Two gorgeous little girls who appear at our door with enthusiastic faces asking if she can come and play. Girls who disappear upstairs to Miss Rose’s bedroom with her to play fancy dress, or take her up to their bedroom to play with their doll houses. They run around the gardens together, they make blanket forts together. They genuinely seek her company and love being around her. And my little girl is flourishing for it. She has friends.
And me? I have a friend too! A friend who I can sit around with in our pyjamas chatting, because neither of us can be bothered to get dressed, especially when it’s each other. A friend who I share far too much personal and dodgy information with, but who reciprocates by the shovel load. A friend who I can text and ask for help with Miss Rose if she’s being a little sod, and who can send her girls round to me if they’re fighting and she needs a break.
It took me a year of building up confidence to say hi then chickening out. Of deciding I don’t want a friend anyway so avoiding. Until eventually, by way of nature, a friendship bloomed.
What has it taught me? Well, that it’s okay I’m this much of a loner. It really is. I still need my time alone and I will get a banging heart and sweaty palms and the prospect of social situations. I still plaster on the huge smile and feel myself getting unnecessarily loud as a coping mechanism when the situations occur. But, there are times, when it’s okay to be around people. There are some people who are safe. And the person who benefits most from this isn’t actually me, it’s Miss Rose. Me being brave enough to be sociable has benefited her immeasurably and I will never regret that.
All she has ever wanted was friends to look up to, friends to play with, friends who seek her out. And now she has them. And this makes me happier than I ever thought it could.