When our kids are really little, their friends are who we say they are — the son of the lady you met in prenatal yoga or the daughter of your best friend from high school. If you’re lucky, they get along and it makes for happy playdates.
But it is a true joy to watch your child create a friendship all his own.
My four-year-old son Evan met his best friend, Hayden, when they were crawling one-year-olds starting daycare. They both have blonde hair and when they were little and would approach in the stroller, it was sometimes hard to tell which one was my son.
Each day, Evan would tell me what he did at daycare and more and more, his answer would be “played with Hayden.” Now we get together with Hayden’s family for Sunday dinners or fun outings. We even went camping together, with the two of them setting up their chairs by the fire, side by side.
When it rained, they played trucks inside the tent for hours and when the sun shone, they swam, ran and played in the park. We had to peel them away from each other to sleep in their separate tents and they rushed out in the morning to be together again.
Now, Evan and Hayden go to different schools every other day, but attend daycare together twice a week. This morning, Evan sped through breakfast and putting on his shoes (a normally torturous process) so that he could he see Hayden. When Evan leaves a playdate, Hayden cries and Evan tells me regularly “I love Hayden.”
With Evan in school now, I am remembering how difficult it can be to make new friends. I realize even more how fortunate he and Hayden were to find each other. Who knows if they will remain friends through the years, but it is possible. Many of my closest friends are from elementary school and one I met when I was a one-year-old too.
For now though, it has been a joy to see these two little guys build their friendship and forge such a strong bond. They are learning so early what it means to have a best friend — to think of the other’s feelings, to know there is someone looking out for you and to want nothing more than each other’s company.
For Hayden’s birthday last month, he did not have a party, but wanted our family to come to his house for dinner. His mom said, “don’t bring a present. All he wants is for Evan to come to his house.”