A very good friend of mine, A, has just spent a few nights with me before beginning her own adventure at Cambridge. I cannot explain how incredibly wonderful it is to be able to sit down with someone who really knows you, and just chat. After months of new friendships (no matter how great these friendships are), an old friend was a welcome relief. In a true test of friendship, A spent the better part of yesterday evening with me as we puzzled, sweated, and groaned our way through putting together a newly delivered piece of Ikea furniture. For anyone not familiar with Ikea, it is a wonderful shopping experience and buying any piece of furniture you can imagine is as simple as ticking a piece of paper – and pretty affordable too. However, the notion of “home-assembly” is slightly more difficult and was somewhat hindered by the fact that I don’t own a hammer. But we persevered and a few glasses of wine, a bowl of popcorn, and a chinese dinner takeaway later – a beautiful shelving unit now adorns my bedroom wall.
The beauty of friendship is that it extends through all periods of a person’s life. The school I work at is a fairly small school; only one class per year group from nursery to Year 6. Other than making it fairly easy to remember the names of most of the children; this means that as child, you are with the same children in a classroom every year for 7 years. This does both good and bad things to friendships – everyday I see the toils that 5 years together has already taken on my class, eight year olds can be cruel. But then there are these moments that completely astound me and remind me that all people have a degree of inherent goodness.
My class is a particularly challenging class. No form of punishment and no incentive for good behaviour seems to matter to them. We have tried everything. Earlier this week they were busy changing for PE (sports) which was withheld from them last week due to bad behaviour. This week we gave them a time limit to change, if a child wasn’t ready by the time the buzzer went off they would not be able to take place in the highly anticipated sports lesson, and would instead have to sit and watch the rest of the class enjoying themselves. Instead of the usual jibes towards each other, the class went about changing quickly and quietly before assuming their set positions on the carpet. One boy was struggling to change with the same speed as the rest of his classmates and soon the naughtiest boy in the class was sitting next to him, tying his shoelaces as he fussed with his t-shirt. At the next desk, one of the female students was helping another male student tie his shoelaces after he’d failed at being able to do them himself.
I wouldn’t dare make a comment about the gender of the children struggling to tie their shoelaces; but the small acts of kindness their classmates offered were enough to leave a smile on my face for the rest of the week. Friendships are challenging and beautiful things, and sometimes we forget how much we need them.