What does it mean to be a friend?
What does it mean to have a friend?
What is the joy of true friendship?
In the following series of posts, I’m going to be looking into this crucial relationship as it relates to the development of character and the experience of joy. I will be drawing largely from my own experience, and also from observation. There are many things in this world that I have not yet experienced, but I count myself blessed to have experienced friendship.
Early Childhood Friendships
Children love to play. The first, and most simple friendship that we experience has everything to do with play. As a little child, we have not developed particular tastes to the degree that we can discriminate amongst peers. What I mean is, children don’t have specialized interests as adults do. This means that they are not joined by similar tastes or hobbies. Instead, they are united by the pursuit and appreciation of fun through play. Sure, boys will usually favor cars and ninjas, and girls will favor dolls and princesses, but if you put a group of children together they will find common ground in their desire for fun.
I can recall my preschool days when we would play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The boys would pretend that they were Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, or Michelangelo, and there would always be at least one girl who wanted to play as April O’Neil. I even remember playing house with the girls. Yes, house. Whoever we were with became playmates. Anytime we played pretend, we became friends. Friends who found joy in simple play.
These earliest friendships are innocent and precious. To the adults who witness them, they should speak of a profound truth. It’s easy for little children to find joy together. They don’t have to understand it. And they don’t have to be told how to find it. It’s simply written on their hearts.
But we all grow up.
Part 2: Gathering Around A Common Interest