Tuesday, 12 July 2011

On friendship

            “Why would she do that?” my daughter asked about a so-called friend who had been messing around with another girl’s boyfriend.

            “She’s supposed to be a friend.” The old cliché ‘all’s fair in love and war’ came to mind but the simple truth is that girls can be heartless when it comes to affairs of the heart, and ever was it so.

            Years ago, when I was not much older than my daughter, I can remember my best friend at the time taking up with my boyfriend and the first I knew of it was when I turned up at his house and she opened the door. I cried for about a week and cut them both out of my life. I moved on to a better relationship and he did the same thing to her six months later. I forgave her and she remains to this day, one of my closest friends.

            I’d like to tell my daughter that relationships, with girls as well as boys, improve as you get older but I have found that grown women can be every bit as devious, calculating and unpleasant as my daughter’s (ex) friend. Millie nearly fainted from shock when I told her that I could count my true friends on one hand. For someone, like herself with in excess of 1,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook the idea that I should admit to having so few seemed inconceivable.

            Yes, I know a lot of people. I have a lot of acquaintances. I am in touch with people from school, university, work and the school run. I am on speaking terms with our neighbours and I know my children’s friends’ parents well enough to pass the time of day. But my true friends, who I could call on if need be, at any time of the night or day, remain in single figures.

            I tried to explain: “You meet many people on your journey through life, some stay with you for a time, others fall by the wayside fairly quickly, but only a few will travel with you until the end.”

            Millie didn’t really understand and I didn’t expect her to. Even though we have moved house and she has changed schools and knows all about ‘moving on’, she still expects the people she is friendly with now to be in her life in 10, 20 or 50 years time. And, just maybe, one or two of them will be.

            I can count my true friends on one hand (well, maybe two) and my hope for my daughter is that she is able to say that when she reaches my age because the passage of time reveals those who truly are our ‘best friends’.