Oh, hey guys. It’s me again. You know, the girl who met that one boyfriend on Craigslist and lived to tell about it. While I was procrastinating perusing the Internet this morning for the latest cat videos news, I came across this article published in the Sunday Times this past weekend, and it really upset me. In short, teachers in southwest London schools are trying to prevent their students from having a “best friend” because the teachers feel that they need to protect their students from the pain of losing such a close relationship over time. Now, before you think, “Um…didn’t this chick meet a dude via a bulletin board of want ads posted by potential murderers and proceed to have a brief romantic relationship with him?” I know you might not trust my judgment yet, but hear me out.
Teachers are encouraging students to play in large groups rather than develop tight-knit bonds with one another. With all of the focus and attention on mean-girls-type-cliques and bullying recently, I do understand their intentions. But not everyone is going to get along with everyone, that’s just life.
So, let’s take a few steps back. I was always under the impression that teachers are in the classroom to teach. To teach math skills, English skills, science skills and LIFE SKILLS. Teachers should not shield children from reality, no matter how harsh it may be. Children need to be taught how to have respectful relationships with those they don’t get along with, not told that they “have to be friends with everyone”.
Losing a best friend doesn’t have to be a painful, devastating, knockdown, drag-out-fight of an experience. I think these teachers are failing to realize that. Of course, that does happen, but it’s all about how you deal with it. If a child can’t learn to properly handle and cope with the disagreements and conflicts that may be involved when a friendship falls out, then what’s going to happen when they’re older? I’m fearful of the message these teachers are sending. How horrible is a world where you never experience the loss of your best friend because you never let them get close to you? What will that mean for romantic relationships? Are we trying to raise a generation of robots, asking them to stand ten feet away from anyone they might possibly want to get to know, all in hopes they won’t feel any semblance of emotions, high or low?
Having a best friend is a GREAT thing. Having a friend you could trust with all your Beanie Babies and share your deepest secrets with meant EVERYTHING to me growing up. It was so nice to have another girl around who totally understood me on every level. Besides, you can only teach your little brother so many choreographed Spice Girls dance routines before he wants to go outside and play baseball. Throughout my life, I’ve had several best friends, some of them I grew distant from naturally, and some were taken from me too soon.
Kristin and I were inseparable until kindergarten, and then we went to different schools. We still stayed close, through Girl Scouts and sports, but it was never the same. Because that’s part of GROWING UP.
You grow up, and sometimes you grow apart. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that I replaced her with other friends or anything like that. All of my friends have had a different impact on my life and each contributed to who I am today.
Nikki was my best friend all throughout high school. We first met at the Dairy Queen across the street from my house; she worked there, and I REALLY like Butterfinger Blizzards (MINNESOTA, y’all). We took driver’s ed together, we went to Blink-182 concerts together, we stayed out way past our curfews at all-night diners together, and we had fun. We became one entity. We planned for the future together. Unfortunately, Nikki died in a car accident our senior year of high school and I was devastated. There would be no summertime road trips and no shopping for dorm room essentials. After she passed, I was really, really lonely. I literally had no one else I shared a bond like that with. I’m not going to lie, I was sad for a really, really long time. With the help of counselors, and – gasp – teachers, I learned positive, constructive ways to cope with the loss of my best friend. Nikki taught me so much about love and life, lessons that I recall to this day; I cannot even imagine how drastically different my life would be now if a teacher had “banned” us from being best friends.
Without my best friends, I would have never learned the importance of keeping a secret, the consequences when I broke my promise, or the process of arguing, apologizing, and reconciling. I wouldn’t have learned empathy, or how to listen and offer advice. So no matter what they do in southwest London, I think we all need to stay the course, keep a best friend and pass along the importance of having one to everyone we know. Because we all need someone to share a Blizzard with.
Featured image via The Western Clan