Normally I post about books, characters, literature in general. Today I am taking a slightly different road. On my way home this morning, I heard an absolutely awe-inspiring thing....
A new trend has begun, started in a school in England and crossing the globe.
The phrase "Best Friend(s)" has been banned in certain schools. Now
, if you are anything like me, you are going to want to read that a second time and let it sink in. Go ahead, I will wait....Ready? Yes, you read that correctly. Children in some schools will no longer be allowed to refer to another child as their best friend, all in the interest of inclusivity. While this may sound like a trivial thing, I believe that it may have further reaching implications than those that are immediately apparent.
Some will say, "But it is just a phrase what difference does it make?" Well yes, it is just a phrase. But by banning this are we unintentionally hindering the formation of the bonds of friendship that can be derived from it? Does a child of ten or twelve realize on a subconscious level that even though we don't say it, it is still true? I don't fully believe that. I think that the stating of a fact at that age has some bearing on whether it is seen as truth. To say that it is in the name of inclusivitiy means that on some level the stating of said fact breeds exclusivity. Maybe, maybe not. While we all form certain bonds and friendships throughout our lives, there are those that transcend the traditional lifespan of such things and become lasting, enduring.
I met my best friend in the seventh grade. I had attended the same school since first grade, and in a small class we had all known each other forever. Friendships were made, and bonds formed, but they were ones bred of traversing the waters of primary school as unit. On an intellectual level I know that she started school with us at the beginning of seventh grade, but for the life of me when I think back I can't remember actually meeting her. When I delve back into the recesses of my mind, it is like she was always there. There is no real "beginning". There is no first hello or introduction in my memory. Whether this is a testament to my terrible memory, or the unbreakable bonds of friendship I do not know, but it doesn't really matter. What I do remember is that at some point, one of us said "this is my best friend", and it was life altering.
Take a moment and think back to the first time your husband, wife, significant other etc. said "I love you". If the feeling was reciprocated, what did you feel? Some call it a sense of rightness, some call it a warm feeling, a moment of clarity, or maybe it was just awkward(that's okay too!). I call it a trigger, the bonds of fate snapping into place telling you are where you are supposed to be, right at the moment you are supposed to be there. While "best friends" is not "I love you," it is the same affirmation of a shared fate, a bond in its infancy.
Our friendship has spanned decades. Love and loss, birth and death, heart wrenching agony and spellbinding happiness, marriage, divorce, the good, the bad and the ugly. We have a shared history that never needs an explanation. There were times we didn't talk much, especially through my "bad years"(her words!), but when I was ready to get my life together she was waiting patiently to guide me back. We've planned weddings together, and funerals. She feels like she grew up in my household, and I feel I grew up in hers. Our families are extensions of each other. She is the keeper of my deepest secrets, and I of hers; we will take them to our graves. My children call her Auntie. Over the decades, my best friend became my sister, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Social media has made it easier to reconnect with people from our past, and I am happy to say that I still maintain some contact with people that I met around the same time, and as an adult I have formed close friendships, but it is not the same. I don't know their middle story, the years before the social media age. It may have been told to me, but I don't know it because I wasn't there. But I know hers and she knows mine because it is Ours. Every memory that we share is another thread in our story, and what a story it is.
I don't know how our story began, but I can tell you it's first defining moment. It was that triggering, that moment when the bonds of fate snapped into place, acknowledging that we were best friends. I can't say for sure if we would be where we are today if that hadn't happened, but I can say that it did, and I am grateful for it.
Those two words spoken 25+ years ago were the start of an unbreakable bond. I know that I never have to face the storm alone, and she knows that it is me and her against the world, always.
In a world where compromise is a word used less often and relationships fail far more frequently than they last, should we be teaching our children not to form these special bonds because we need to include everyone? Or should we be teaching them that some bonds are once in a lifetime and they should cherish every moment, every bond that they make, and hope that they find their person, their best friend? I know what I would choose for my children, how about you?
P.S. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts/stories. Feel free to leave a comment on my website, Facebook and/or Twitter.