Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult? The older you get, it seems, the more inhibited you become about opening yourself up to someone. Plus, we're all so busy that fostering friendship can be extremely difficult. I mean, who has the time? In retrospect, it seemed much easier to make friends when you were a kid. Yet, looking back, I can't recall how I felt about the task when I
was a child. So I thought, "Hey, I know some children. Why don't I ask school-age kids how to make friends? Maybe they'll have a hot take on this I hadn't considered."
Turns out, most of the
kids I chatted with (via their parents) did think making friends was a pretty easy thing to do. Their takes, while invariably adorable, weren't exactly hot takes. Befriending a relative stranger was all very basic for them. Some were confused by the question to the point of indignation, too. Like, "Why is this a thing? Why am I being asked this? Are you going to ask me how to breathe next? Just be a friend!"
Oh. Duh. Of course. Why didn't I think of that?
So, yeah, according to most of the 3 to 11 year olds I chatted with, we adults are
. So what way overthinking this whole friendship thing should we be doing instead? Noah, 8
“So, it’s actually pretty easy. I just walk right up and introduce myself. You know, my name and age and about my family. Two sisters and a dog. Then right away I ask them
if they like football. If they do, we start talking sports and go get a team together. If they look at me like [insert nervous and confused face here] then I just change the subject and ask about something more relatable, like where they go to school or if they’re at school what teacher they have.”
May we all have the laid back confidence of Noah when we grow up. Damn. I would so buy his child's self-help book.
“All you have to do is be nice and then you will have friends.”
This sounds very reasonable, but Tegan's mom informed me that, when asked, Tegan was
not in a chatty mood, and she answered "with a hand on the hip and a look that certainly wouldn’t make many friends." Aidan, 6
"It's easy! It's just easy! You just need to play with them. You don't even have to say anything." Aidan's mom points out that it takes him about three weeks to talk to someone new ("and then he might say hi!"). So outwardly Aidan is like "LOL! So easy! Don't worry about it, LOL!" And inwardly he's all:
Say something nice."
Well, I've always been partial to biting sarcasm and scathing gossip, but I guess it can't hurt to be kind. Good thinking, Abby.
"I don't know. Stop talking."
Yeah. This kid is mine, folks, and she was having precisely none of it. You'd think, with an attitude like that, she'd be a surly little hermit, but no: she's a
goddamn social butterfly. She has insight on this, she just doesn't want to share. Livie, 3
“Ask someone their name and then play with them.”
"Is that a real question? I don't know, I just make them. If they want to be friends, we're friends."
I feel like Dagny and Gioia are destined to be cranky old ladies sitting on a stoop together one day, yelling at children.
"You talk to people and be social. You have to be nice and listen to people even if you don't care about what they are saying. Wait, if you don't care about what they are saying then you probably shouldn't be friends."
So wise, Morgan.
Don't you waste your time with triflers. Avery, 5
"Making friends is hard. They always want you to do something and it's always different."
OMG, you guys: how is Avery this world-weary at 5? She's just, like, done. She's exhausted by your bullsh*t. Please see yourself to door: she has a standing afternoon appointment with a well-worn copy of Nietzsche.
“I look for someone who is playing by themselves and I go up to them and ask, 'Is it OK if I join you?' and if they say yes then great, we can play together. And if they say no then that’s OK too.”
Olivia has just made me feel like literally everything in the world is
going to be alright. Thank you, Olivia. You have accomplished what years of meditation and talk therapy never could. Dylan, 4
"Don't be mean. If someone calls you a butthead, they aren't nice and you shouldn't be friends with them. Tell them 'I'm leaving!' and go make another friend."
When his mother asked him how he would do that, Dylan responded, "I don't know."
His mother also points out that Dylan is the pot calling the kettle black, since "butthead" is the most overused word in his vocabulary. ("We're really trying to get it in hand.")
"Bring a toy to share. Because maybe they're nervous and a toy will help. Also? I have really cool toys."
You sure do, buddy. You sure do.
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