(No idea who originally said this. I just love it.)
Once upon a time I was a tiny misfit about to enter kindergarten.
According to family lore (retold so many times I’m convinced I remember it happening) I expressed this trepidation to my Mom.
“Here’s what you do,” she instructed me. “Find someone you like and ask them if they will be your friend for the day. Just start with a day!”
And, because Ive convinced myself I remember all this, I “clearly recall” approaching a girl named Alex, asking her to be my friend, and all my kinder-friendships easily forming from that day onward.
Ahhh life was simple back in the kinder-days.
In all honestly life was pretty damn simple when we moved to Oakland, too.
At least with regards to friends.
Even before this latest move was on the horizon I would often tell the Tornado how unbelievably fortunate we were here.
We met these people on one of our first days in town.
Another woman took it upon herself to befriend me *and* the Tornado. She took us under her wing and showed us the (super confusing new school) ropes.
(The Oakland playground where we made friends.)
I’m not usually one to attribute “success” to outside factors, but we were so fortunate here I’ve often used the word luck when talking about our transition with the child.
In a few months we are transitioning again.
It’s easier (have friends in the city. know the city if not the part of town where we’re moving to) and it’s harder (it feels as though it should be moving “home” but starting/learning a new school is always challenging).
And we’re older.
8 years & 11 months and 45 years & 3 months.
This stuff gets harder as we age.
People already have friends.
People have been friends for a while.
Sometimes, the child has pointed out, even!since!preschool.
Recently, I had the gift of a few hours of uninterrupted Child-time.
We talked about being the NewKid & the NewMom at school and ways we might find our Tribe.
And we brainstormed.
And we came up with ideas.
5 tips for making friends when you’re new at school.
- Be like Twitter (title was mine but idea *ours*) We both realized we have a pattern here in Oakland. We hangout before school in the same place every day. We hangout on the playgrounds the same days after-school. We take the same route to school each morning at the exact same time. We see the same faces as a result of these patterns. Familiarity breeds friendship potential…or so she and I like to think.
- Share about yourself. I probably do too much of this, but I also know people are immediately aware if I’m their cup of tea or not. I like to think of it as a time-saver I gift to others! I do encourage the child to temper the over-shares (unlike her mama) but I encourage her to SHARE. Friendship bonds (like those she’s noticed existing since preschool) emerge from a shared history and knowledge of each other.
- Ask people about themselves. The child and I decided this makes for fewer *awkward conversation silences.* I decided, like dating, when you ask people about themselves you know, by their answers, if it’s a friendship match! Whether 8 or 45 we all grow selective about friendships as we age. More often than not, whether we wanna hangout with someone boils down to if we have anything in common. We don’t know this unless we ASK.
- Know what you love to do. (Aka reason #67 I wish I loved to run) I love to read. I’d love to find an adult book club. I had lots of fun creating a Mother/Daughter book club in Oakland. The child says she will miss kickball at recess and plans to see if friends at her new school like kickball. It’s easier to make new friends who like to do what you do—-but you need to know what that is!
- Take nothing personally. To quote the Child “being the new kid sucks.” None of us like to be rejected when we make gestures of friendship. We decided this is like dating (if by WE you mean I decided—which we do). There are many reasons friendship overtures may not be reciprocated. Often it has nothing to do with *you* at all. I can’t lie. I’m fine with it for myself. People are busy. My pointy backpack and I are NOT everyone’s thing. I get that. I’m trying to teach her the same approach to friendship and life.
That’s pretty much where she & I ended our list.
All the ideas and tips we could come up with for friend-making at the new school and beyond.
As I explained to her: we all struggle with this. Kid or grown up. Moving or not.
So now we look to you:
- What’s your #1 friend making tip?