“Do you wanna be friends?” the little girl at the park asked Thea, my 5 year old.
“Sure!” Thea said and off they went, playing for the next 20 minutes.
I remember when it used to be that easy. Just ask someone to be your friend, after all, who says no to that, and off you went on new adventures, new friend close by, sharing all of the joy with you. You didn’t care about their family, or what they liked, you didn’t care about their beliefs, or other big picture things. They had asked to be your friend, so off you went, friends for now, who cares about later?
As adults, we seem to have muddied it all up. As someone who is shy naturally, I never ask someone to be my friend, but I hope and I try and I reach out, yet it still seems so hard to navigate. We ask questions of each other, as if being a friend is something you have to interview for. We consider whether we have time for more friends, after all, we are all so busy. We do friend trial periods to see if we really are a good match, and when it doesn’t work out, we are swift to cut off contact. It is not that we are not friendly, because we are, but we do not easily extend the branch of friendship. That is something to be earned, to be given only after a long evaluation.
What if we started just being friends with people? What if instead of interviewing new people, we assumed that they are a nice person, that they have something to offer to us. What if at our schools, with all of those new teachers, we went out of our way to include someone, to invite someone, to be a friend to someone?
I know we are all busy. I know we are all worried about getting hurt by new people. But perhaps we have made it too hard for ourselves to find new friends. Perhaps the barriers we have built have become walls rather than doors? Perhaps we should all just start asking, ‘Do you wanna be friends?” to the new people we meet? Think of the power that would have.
I am a passionate teacher in Wisconsin, USA, who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.
4 thoughts on “Do You Wanna Be Friends?”
Hey, Pernille, Do you want to be friends? I’m fairly new to Madison and a former teacher librarian. I love your posts and following your quest in teaching.
Pernille, do you wanna be friends? ! Your posts resonate with me and I enjoy hearing your voice! So true, that we as adults “muddle” it up. I have taught 18 years and transferred to a different school this September. So, I am “new” at the school. So far, many staff have been friendly and helpful and I sense that there is a positive and happy vibe at this new-to-me school. I feel blessed to be working at this school, surrounded by individuals who are happy and dedicated to this learning community, but still fear establishing friendships. Your comment about the barriers we build – that they may be walls rather than doors, rings true with me. As a new person I don’t fear meeting new colleagues, but I fear that they will see my weaknesses. My fears could potentially “muddle” things for me. Thoughts like, “they’re probably too busy” or “they have a busy home life with kids and commitments outside of school” run through my head and do not serve me well in my quest to make friends. Making friends is scary but I realized this past week that I cannot be a teacher in isolation. I need others with which to share, collaborate, and plan. So far, I have reached out to grade partners and they have been receptive and helpful. I sure hope they don’t suddenly decide to abandon me after a trial period! Thanks for your post today! Your friend, Cynthia 🙂
I love your blog on friendship! How true! So many lonely people could be less lonely if we could just say do you want to be friends!