Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bambina's BFFs

Bambina often tells me about her day at school looong after the day has ended. In perhaps a painful prelude to her adolescence, I ask her how preschool was, she says "good," and then 5 hours later I get the whole megillah.

So tonight over dinner she said in a very serious manner, "Mama, I have to tell you something that happened at school today." I got nervous watching her obviously working herself up to tell me The News. She seemed a bit upset and then said, "Today at school Ezra told everyone that he was my best friend! But I didn't give him permission to be my best friend! I am not friends with boys, Mama! He's not my best friend!" [cue Mama's palpable relief that this was the major issue weighing on her child's mind].

I foolishly began by saying, "Well that was sweet of Ezra to say!" She gave me the "whose side are you ON?" look, so I took a different tack. "Sweet Girl, okay, a few things here. First and foremost: you do not have to be best friends with Ezra, okay? Just because he says it's so does not make it so. I repeat: you do not have to be best friends with Ezra. OK?" [cue Bambina's palpable relief that some--ick--boy cannot just decide you guys are BFFs and that's that]. Okay. "Second. That was actually a very nice thing for Ezra to say. Because it's a nice thing that he likes you enough that he wants to be your best friend, just like you like Sophia and Allie and Shiri, right? So Ezra is a nice boy for saying that." {Ezra is actually a totally lovely kid with whom Bambina actually does play a lot and talk about a lot--and bonus: I LOVE his mother}. She conceded that, fine, it was a nice sentiment to express. So: "Third. When someone is nice to us and is our friend, we do not say or do mean things to them, and we try not to hurt their feelings. So we're not going to say to Ezra that he can't be our Best Friend; that would hurt his feelings. If he presses it, you can either tell him that you are only BFFs with girls or that it is fine for him to be your BFF, but that you also want to have other BFFs too." Bambina: "But Mama! I am NOT friends with boys! I only play with them! Playing with is not being friends!"

I felt like I was conversing with a commitment-phobic ex-boyfriend. We can date, but not be "dating." We are "exclusive" until he meets someone else. We love each other but he's not "in love." Like, Oh yeah Ezra: a few rounds up the climbing wall and now you want to label us?! So now we've got to be defined? Pulling out the ol' "So what is it that we're doing here?" question just 8 weeks into preschool?! Bambina don't play dat. She was not havin' it at all. So who knows what she's going to say to poor, sweet, adorable Ezra tomorrow when he tries to all BFF her again during circle time. This is one of those teachable moments--for me--wherein I learn that I cannot script my daughter's life interactions, even at the age of 4 1/2.

Oh--did I mention she's 4 1/2? Because she has mentioned it. About 4 1/2 million times. She's 4 1/2. Which, if you aren't aware, makes her older than her classmates who have the heartbreaking misfortune to be "just 4." We had a little come-to-jesus moment last week when we had to break it to her that you don't get a party for being "a-half" anything. No cake, no party, no friends over for funny hats and party games. Her next come-to-jesus will be when she finally, substantively understands that being a half-year older does NOT catch you up to your older classmates. Time bends for no one, not even a 4 1/2 year old.

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