Knowing Pain At 7


Srishti was very sad today. Her 1st best friend broke up with her 2nd best friend in school. She tried to patch up the “brokening”. It didn’t work.

At first, I tried to soften her sadness by jokingly asking whether it was like Peppa pig breaking up with Suzzy sheep (in a favourite episode from her favourite cartoon) & then coming together again at the slightest opportunity (only to fight again…)! But no – this was serious.

In her recounting, I realized that she herself is the 2nd best friend of her 1st best friend (didn’t know that). I asked her whether that hurt her. She said, no – she was more hurt by the other pair not being friends any more. She in fact had even reasoned with her 1st best friend that the one she is leaving had come in her life before (in Upper Nursery) while Srishti had become her friend only in Grade 1. That reasoning didn’t work either.

I was stumped hearing this part. In her own way, in her language, Srishti was talking of primary loyalties, of fidelity in friendships. Her sense of fairness was hurt: she felt the person who came first in her 1st best friend’s life should have the greater claim in their inter-personal relationship.

I couldn’t make out what had affected Srishti more – that her two friends breaking up tarnished the happy dynamic of their triad, or (what she thought was) the unfairness of she remaining the friend & the older pair not.

She asked me about my school friends… I think she needed to validate her experience by relating it to mine. I readily obliged. Told her of my friends – those who have stayed, the ones I lost. Told her, too, of the importance of togetherness in building and keeping friendships; that there can be other ways of not being friends any more than quarreling or falling out. She was quick to understood the logic of outgrown friendships – immediately citing a friend from Grade1 who is not a close friend of hers any more in Grade 2, as she is now in a different section and they hardly get to do anything together. I marveled at this understanding.

In all probability, the triad that Srishti loves being a part of will be restored soon (in which case they will insist that their mothers plan play dates before the winter break). But that doesn’t alter the fact that the sadness she felt today was very real.

We try to protect our children from pain – but they get it any way. And we sure underestimate their maturity. These are the two lessons I learnt today.