Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Unrequited Best Friend

Lou and her new BFF

Lou has had the same best friend for almost her entire life. She's been talking about this kid since the time she was able to talk and engage in cooperative play. She has gone as far as to declare that she will marry this other little girl, "if I can still find her when we're grown ups." The thing is, the few times I've seen them together at daycare this girl looks like she wants nothing to do with Lou. The people at daycare have told my wife that the two kids play together all the time. I wonder if what they're seeing is Lou following this girl around and assuming that's a friendship.

We've tried to nurture the relationship. We've left our contact information for the girl's parents, but they've never called. We met them once at pick up after Parent's Night Out and they kind of blew us off. Lou hasn't been to daycare in a few months now, and now that she's not full time she's not always in the same room as the other girl. Still, my wife and Lou made special trip down to the center just to drop off a birthday party invitation for her.

The invitation was somehow misplaced. We got an email from a parent saying that a kid we'd never heard of would be attending and thanking us for the invitation. This happened despite the invitation being addressed to Lou's best friend by name. T called the daycare to ask if they could leave a note for the best friend's parents explaining what happened and hoping the kid could come to the party. We never heard back. This was the only friend Lou had invited.

The day of the party, as the guests arrived and the kids played Lou wandered around the house looking bummed. She kept saying she was fine, but after some prodding she finally asked, "When will she get here?" I had to explain again that we hadn't heard back from the kid's parents and that we didn't know if she was coming. Lou eventually came around but the first hour and a half of the party was a dud for her. It sucked. But it was the next few days that have been heart breaking.

It seems like Lou may have finally given up on this kid, which is fine. But she's been replacing her in the role of "best friend" with an assortment of characters that makes me want to scoop her up and hold her and tell her she's too young to be turning into Miss Havisham.

Her first replacement was Lentil, the cleft lip dog who has been sending her gifts as part of being in Lentil's fan club. She started talking about Lentil just like she had been talking about this girl from daycare. So yeah, Lentil is on the list for next year's birthday party. In some ways this mirrors her obsession with her previous "best friend," in that there's some relationship established, but it's not a real friendship. At least she had actually interacted with the little girl, she's only ever gotten letters from Lentil.

Her second declaration is the one that really got me. We were eating dinner on the deck when she declared that carpenter bees were her best friend because they would never sting her. She has continued with the bees for the last week. She also likes them because there are a lot of them so they're always around.

Oh honey sweetie baby. Oh my darling Lou Bean. You will start pre-K next year and hopefully you will meet some actual friends. Until then I hope that space in your heart will be filled by someone or something other than some bees.

I'd never seen a bee tongue before
Yesterday we found a carpenter bee limping around the basement play room. Lou's first reaction was to run upstairs screaming and crying. "But honey," I said, "that's your best friend." She replied that her brother's exclamation upon finding the bee was what scared her. My normal inclination is to kill things that enter my home. But I just read a meme the day before about nursing tired bees back to health using sugar water. And bees are important so I took the bee outside and gave it a spoon of sugar water.
When I showed Lou she was thrilled to see her best friend eating. It was pretty cool. I'd never seen a bee's tongue before. Both kids got to have one of those cool at home educational experiences, and I got to be cool hero dad for ten minutes.

In the end the bee took some time to recoup, then it flew away. I learned later that it's probably rejoined its hive and that the lot of them are probably chewing through my floor joists. Now I'll have to Fredo the bees and hope my daughter can find a human friend, and that she never ever finds out what I've done.

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