As Olly’s third birthday approached, all I needed to concentrate on was his birthday presents, getting him an amazing birthday cake and to plan a fun filled day out for him to celebrate his big day. There was no party to plan for, no invitations to write and no party bags to worry about because who would we invite? He has no close friends, no-one to call a best friend and I can’t help feeling incredibly guilty about it all and wondering if it’s my fault.
As a working family with little disposable income, we have relied on family to look after Olly whilst we have been at work. I work four days per week with Fridays off at home where we have the chance to spend some quality time together doing whatever we want to do; sometimes this includes running errands and attending appointments and occasionally we get the chance to meet up with friends for a coffee and an hour at soft play.
Aside from playgroup which Olly attends with his Nan for a couple of hours every week, he doesn’t get much chance to socialise with little ones the same age as him. He doesn’t get much chance to learn how to share, how to start up a conversation and how to join in with others in a game of tag or playing with a selection of toys. We don’t have many close friends who have children or have children of the same age for Olly to get to know. Our friends live miles away and getting together is not always easy when diaries clash and distance is the biggest barrier. You can’t just pop down the motorway after work for a cup of tea and a slice of cake whilst the kids enjoy an hour or two at the local park!
Last year, Olly and I signed up for the Move With Peppa classes at our local leisure centre on my day off. I had hoped it would be a chance for us to make some friends who lived close by but it didn’t happen. The children that went to the class were much younger than Olly and none of the Parents were particularly chatty despite my best efforts to raise conversation with them.
I know it’s just circumstance that Olly doesn’t have a best friend but I’m really hoping it’s not a reflection on me. I have friends, lots in fact. I have a couple that are close and although I don’t see them as half as much as I would like (due to distance) I know that our friendship is forever and we can always pick up where we left without awkardness or worry. But I’m lonely and I miss the close friendship of having a best friend. This isn’t an indication on the state of my marriage bytheway, I can talk to my husband about everything and anything (poor bloke) but I do miss female conversation with someone who really gives a shit and understands.
Looking at who my own Mother is friends with today, she’s met the majority of them through activities that my Sister and I did during our childhoods (swimming lessons, music lessons, playgroups etc) We’ve grown up with those families and although I have moved away from where I grew up, the friendships are still there and I genuinely still care about them and have an interest in their lives.
I’m hoping that we get the chance to do the same in the next few months when Olly starts a local pre-school. I want him to make friends with children his own age, who he can play with on a regular basis, who he can invite home for dinner and share his toys with. I want him to make friends so that I can make friends with their parents. Is that selfish? For my own sanity, I want to be able to take Olly to school and pick him up afterwards. I want to meet the other Mums in the playground and make friendships. I’m so scared I won’t be able to do that. It really does worry me and is something I’ll need to seriously think about in the next few months.
I feel guilty that I’ve not been able to give Olly that opportunity; the opportunity to form a close friendship with someone. Someone to play and grow up with. Of course, when we ask Olly who his best friend is, it’s Little Ted or Mummy or Daddy which is absolutely fine by me but I’m desperate for him to start building friendships that will last forever.
I really hope I haven’t failed him already. I’m pushing the boundaries of my own insecurities of previously dwindled friendships and hoping that one day he’ll have a best friend to play with.