Making And Keeping Friends — Not Just A Lesson For Kids!

I’d like to think of myself as a fairly loyal friend. Growing up with a non-verbal learning disability, meant that making friends has not always been easy for me, which is maybe why I work hard to maintain these relationships as I develop them.

The Power Of Friends

Recently, I’ve experienced the end of a friendship. If I’m honest with myself, this was probably more of an acquaintanceship. This relationship — whatever it was — ended via text message. I was not expecting this person’s response to one of my texts about when she might like to reschedule a recent dinner plan. One message became many more, and when it became clear that maybe emotions were getting misconstrued through these texts, I wondered if talking in-person would help. No such luck. I will say that this individual never actually said that our friendship is over, but her responses and then lack of responses, made things done for me.

I was surprised by some of the things that she said, noting times that she told me about others who did similar things, but never making any parallels to my choices. Maybe though I should not be surprised. If she was talking about others to me, would it not seem likely that she was talking about me to others? Is this really a friend that I want? It’s this final question that makes me think a lot about school. Learning to make friends is hard at all grade levels, and learning to keep them, might be even harder. Sometimes learning when to step away is an even bigger challenge. I feel as though it was recently that I learned this final lesson.

During this upcoming school year, as we navigate friendships with our students, maybe this summertime experience will help me empathize more with kids. Do we need to experience some of our own struggles to help understand the struggles that students might also be experiencing? I think my life will better without this friend/acquaintance and the drama that she brought with her, but letting go was not an easy thing to do. Sometimes we need to realize that we deserve better. This was my time to realize that.


8 thoughts on “Making And Keeping Friends — Not Just A Lesson For Kids!

  1. Aviva,
    This post huts my heart. As usual, though, it also gives me a great deal to think about.

    As a Grade 7 teacher, I have a front row seat to all of the pain, frustration, joy and tears of navigating friendship. I often spend time helping parents navigate the endlessly fluctuating peer groups and the free-flowing shifts of who is hanging out with who. Longer absences caused by COVID meant that students were sometimes returning to a class with totally different social strata than the one they had left. And the drama…..

    As a neuroatypical kid (and adult), I lived a lot of this. I know what it is to find it hard to make friends, and I identify with those kiddos in my classroom. I also think about many of my students who, like me, feel the big gap between their face to face social engagement at school and a much smaller social engagement in summer. Those adjustments, I think, sometimes lead to text conversations that lack connection, like yours.
    I am sorry that your friendship ended by text. That’s crappy. I appreciate you sharing the story and your thinking around it. I often wonder about how we could build in some kind of classroom social engagement space during this gap for our learners who would benefit from it.

    • Thanks Lisa for your kind words, but also, for sharing your thinking and experiences as an adult and educator. I remember when I taught Grades 5 and 6. As difficult as it might be for some kindergarten students to start making friends, things become even more challenging in these pre-teen and teen years. Add in hormones, and you have a whole other beast. COVID further complicates matters, and as you said, the changes between the school year and the summer can make things more challenging. I’m reminded of why I was so reluctant to learn to text in the first place, as it’s harder to read social cues in an electronic written format. This was true here. I think that I was surprised, as my initial message was just a quick “hello,” with a possible alternative date and place for getting together. Soon after, everything fell apart. When I mentioned maybe getting together to talk in-person — noting the problems with these exchanges through text — my message was ignored. Maybe she needed time and space. But looking back over our friendship/acquaintanceship, I do wonder if these problems were always below the surface. Maybe some things just happen for a reason. Thinking about Diana’s comment, I almost wonder if I can come to this conclusion better now than I could have as a pre-teen/teen (or even young adult). This could speak then about the need for the social engagement space that you mentioned. I would love to hear if you develop one with your kids and how it works out. I know that our Board is continuing to prioritize mental health and well-being, and the Reimagining Wellness lessons speak to that: This blog post exchange maybe highlights another reason why these lessons and this focus are so very important. Thanks for giving me more to think about, and thanks, as always, for all of your support!


  2. Aviva,
    Your post really struck a chord with me. I’ve never had much luck with “best friends”. I had one in late high school / early university. She ended our friendship shortly after we took a big trip together, courtesy of a letter listing all the reasons why she thought I was a less-than-adequate friend. It hurt. Did she have a point? She might have, but like in your situation, I noticed that this ex-friend had behavioural patterns of getting very close to one individual, then finding fault with them and then bad-mouthing them and “breaking up”. That’s why I like being an adult – I have more friends, more choices, and more insights / understanding. Hugs to you!

    • Thanks Diana for your comment! I’m sorry to read about your experience, but I appreciate your reflection and perspective. Maybe things do become easier as adults, when we feel more comfortable knowing that we have more choices and insights. I’m not sure that I would have been able to let this friendship go as easily back when I was in high school, or even university, but now I realize that moving on is the right thing to do.


  3. Aviva,

    Thanks for always being so open. Friendships are so weird and complex. I’ve always been one of those people with many “friends” (probably actually acquaintances, if I’m honest) and people drift away. It seems like at each stage of my life I have had a different circle of friends. I see other women with a core group of friends since high school or university that still get together and go on girls trips and wonder why that never seemed to stick with my friendships? Not that I’m sad about it. I’m content with the friends I have and to be honest, the pandemic has made me more of an introvert. I’d rather stay home with my husband than go out and be with people… most of the time.

    I’m also at an age where most of my friends have young kids like me and we get busy with them. But in many of those relationships, I’m the one who reaches out to make plans and schedule visits. I’m kinda over that.

    No advice here. Just wondering about it all in solidarity.

    • Thanks Beth for wondering along with me. Friendships are so interesting, and as you mentioned, so complex. For me, many of my friends are ones that I went to university with as well as those that I’ve met through teaching. For some of my friends, including my best friend, we rarely get together but connect a lot over text and email. We live a little farther apart and have different work schedules, so arranging get togethers takes a lot of pre-planning, but we still try to work in a couple in a year. Other friends, live closer to me and have similar schedules. Getting together for brunches or dinners are somewhat the norm, and we try to make things work every few weeks. I think that having similar work and home lives can make these in-person connections easier to coordinate.

      Your comment though is making me think of some friends that I haven’t seen in over two years. We used to all teach at the same school, and then some of us moved to other schools and others eventually retired. With the pandemic, we haven’t connected in years, but recently, one person reached out and suggested a patio dinner. We’re all getting together at the beginning of August. I love how this friendship can just kind of pick up again, even though it’s somewhat been on pause thanks to COVID. In this case and in other friendships, the people and the relationships made working to maintain this connection worthwhile. In the friendship/acquaintanceship that I blogged about, I wonder if the recent events have made it clear that a break is really the best thing to do. And maybe that’s okay, even if at times, it’s hard.


  4. I’m so sorry to read of this issue, Aviva, along with the comments above. Sometimes, ending a friendship can be a beginning for something better. When one door closes, …

    Still, at the time, it can hurt.
    “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

    I can’t offer advice in your particular instance but, like the ladies above, can only think of similar circumstances with myself. Sometimes, it happens and you need to work on moving on. Dwelling on things like this can drag you down even further.

    Your connections to school are important and it’s one of the things that teachers are constantly keeping an eye on. Things can get out of control. Throw in Covid and it serves to amplify the impact.

    I think it’s important to note that technology changes everything. It’s so easy when connected to make comments – like at 3:53 when you can’t sleep – and a screen capture makes a slip lasts forever.

    I know that I’m old school at times but there are times when dialing and talking to a person is a far better approach than any of the electronic alternatives. Perhaps this is a life skill that needs to be taught in school with the same enthusiasm that the use of technology is.

    • Thanks for your comment, Doug! At the time when everything happened, I think that I was very angry and upset. It’s been over a week now though, and I really do believe that I’ve moved on … and am happy with that choice. Maybe blogging was my last cathartic way to come out on the other side of this.

      I love your connection to school. Yes, texting can be so much easier, and I know that I tend to text and email far more than calling. I have no doubt that teenagers text even more than me. While I think that the way things ended with my friend might have been for the best, I wonder if the outcome would have been different if I called her after her first text or if she called me instead of ever texting me back. Could we have worked things through? Maybe we do need to find a way to support adolescents with this in the classroom. I’m trying to figure out when/how we might do this, but as we bring even more tech into the classroom, is addressing this issue even more crucial? I’m thinking again about the Reimagining Wellness lessons that our Board created for K-8 students: I wonder if this learning around tech and friendship could be a part of them. Thanks for giving me more to think about!


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