Having a “best” friend is one of those rites of passage that all girls go through. That first time you click with another girl on such a magical, inexplicable level is truly remarkable. So much has been written about first romantic love, or first kisses – but really, from a much younger age, there is that moment when a girl meets a girl and something happens that is just as powerful, if not more so. Finding that friend that “gets” you in a sea of kids who don’t, is really special. However, watching my daughter go through this rite of passage has not been quite as special – sickening and full of dread is more like it.
I should preface all this by saying that my daughters are identical twins and so share a bond and common language that is absolutely unique, immutable and unbreakable. To be born with your best friend is not the usual way to enter the world, but my girls have a connection that is beyond my comprehension. That does not mean however that they don’t long for that stereotypical “best” friend. In third grade this whole labeling of friends took on a frantic and obsessive nature as girls started claiming one another. There is no other way to describe it. And one of my daughters was caught up in the frenzy. And then it happened.
One morning at drop off one my daughter’s closest friends – a girl whom I think is wonderful, and so does my daughter – presented my daughter with a BFF necklace. If you are not familiar with this staple of girl jewelery let me explain. It is a necklace (or it could be a bracelet, or earrings – whatever) where the matching charm – stamped BFF for the world to see – belongs to the other girl. You might have two halves that fit together when both girls click them together, or matching charms – either way you get the idea. And there at drop off, in front of an entire class of nosy kids (well, girls, the boys are totally clueless luckily for them) my daughter was offered this shiny charm. And she panicked. And she said no in front of everyone. And then of course she felt absolutely terrible and didn’t know what to do. And then the teacher came out and took them inside and the entire two-minute drama consumed her for the entire day, and night.
At home that afternoon she cried. She felt terrible for hurting her friend’s feelings, and torn because she worried that accepting the necklace meant she couldn’t be friends with another girl who of course didn’t get along with the first girl. Are you still following me? The pressure, and the seriousness with which she took this necklace was heartbreaking. To her this was not some silly charm; it was a declaration and a promise, and she wasn’t ready for that commitment. And she knew she had embarrassed her friend and made her feel bad and it all snowballed until really didn’t want to go back to school the next day. And I honestly didn’t know what to advise her. It was a horrible predicament all around. All because of that one token of Girldom and those three little letters: BFF.
In the end things resolved the way they always do in elementary school. She accepted the BFF necklace but they agreed that they could have more than one BFF – and my other daughter was included too. But the memory of that day still lingers – and I can pretty much guarantee my daughters will NEVER give someone a BFF charm – they are too freaked out by the promise behind it. Girlhood is serious business and the scary thing is that as middle school approaches it’s really only just begun. But, I also know from my own experience that there is nothing better than the joy of great girl and women friendships – of finding that person who you are sure you must have known in a past life – even if you’re a total atheist who doesn’t normally believe in those sorts of things. It’s worth pursuing and keeping yourself open to because those friendships are the ones that will carry you through your whole life long. No BFF charm necessary.