The ways we connect with our friends sure did change fast. Each week the girls and I would cultivate friendships at our homeschool cooperative, church, and evening activities. I took the ease and luxury of meeting up with friends for granted. I never would have thought that my calendar would clear up and all gatherings would cease.
Friendship is an important part of our lives. Currently, my closest friends, outside of my family, live at a distance. Since I have friendships that span many miles, I am used to connecting with women using other means than in-person gatherings.
Cultivating friendship over the phone, through the mail, and via video calls are new for my girls. They are all young so they don’t have their own phones. The girls didn’t even have their friends’ contact information when the stay at home order began.
The need for connecting with their friends became evident quickly. I decided to let them take the lead and helped them gather the information needed to connect with friends.
My youngest daughter, Elyse, loves to write. She was the first one who wanted to write a letter to a friend. It is so sweet to read her letters. The innocence and tenderness of her words helps me realize that her world is built on a firm foundation. Elyse is concerned about boys finding out she has a secret fort in the basement which is exactly as it should be.
The best part about writing a letter for Elyse is the anticipation that another one will return to her. She has figured out that on paper or in an email if she asks a question she is usually guaranteed a response.
It is fun to see Elyse explore written communication. I do not allow myself to critique or evaluate these letters. They are not writing lessons but words of her own expression. Elyse uses writing to connect with her friends and is eager to get the next letter in the mail.
My middle daughter, Heidi, is my extrovert. She was the first one in the house to miss people and activities. I have compassion for Heidi since her personality thrives on connection and communication. The best way for her to cultivate her friendships has been through video chat.
Heidi enjoys catching up with her few close friends on a weekly basis. She prefers talking one-on-one with her friends. Her calls are spontaneous. Heidi will wake up in the morning and have a plan of who she wants to talk to in the next day or two. My agreement with her is one video chat with a friend per week.
Setting clear expectations and allowing Heidi to have her own ideas and spontaneity, has made video chatting with friends a great way for her to cultivate friendships.
My oldest daughter, Adelynn, is a planner. She is consistent and measured. After she got her feet wet with Zoom meetings, she was hooked. Her first Zoom meeting was with the youth group and over 70 people were present.
When Adelynn finished up that meeting, she asked how she could connect with a smaller group of friends. She had to figure out email addresses and set up a time for her friends to all chat together. Her friend meeting went so well that she asked the other girls to join her on a weekly basis. Same time, same place.
The weekly meetings have worked out great. Adelynn has something to look forward to in her week and who ever can make it joins in. I have enjoyed listening to her just laugh and laugh.
Across the ocean
Adelynn has enjoyed cultivating a friendship with Mailys, who lives in France. They chat over WhatsApp. Mailys speaks very excellent English and has piqued Adelynn’s interest in learning French.
It is fun to hear the girls talk about likes and dislikes, holiday celebrations and family life. The girls are dreaming of meeting in person some day. I feel like it is such a blessing for Adelynn to develop this friendship. I appreciate my brother for introducing us to Mailys and her family.
I have learned more about each one of my daughters through this quarantine. They connect with their friends differently but all in such a sweet way. Their personalities come through in the means in which they want to connect.
I appreciate the other parents and how they have supported the friendships on their end as well. We are all learning how to connect with each other and be present at a distance. With loads of grace, a sprinkle of fun, and a pinch of creativity we can continue to connect with our friends.
How are you cultivating your friendships?
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