Friendship is what makes life magical, it’s sharing what is special and valuable with someone who is happy to see you happy. It’s a unique bond, brought about through regular, meaningful interaction. For kids this might mean playing together, sharing toys, meeting frequently enough to create lasting memories. As we grow and become more sophisticated and in tune with the outer world, we start relating friendship to loyalty and commitment and these traits will pour over into adulthood. These bonds often happen haphazardly in school, playgrounds, neighborhoods, or within families. But what if you just moved to a new country, don’t have any neighbors or have no family close by? Or what if the neighbors or family that you do have, don’t share the same language or simply play significantly differently or spend all their free time studying? Kids go to school for 4-5 hours per day, 5 days per week and spend most of that time glued to desks, listening to the teacher.There is very little time to bond and share, and these relationships are often relegated to the school grounds, since kids live so far apart and don’t spend extra curricular time together. Then at home it can be all the more complicated to feel safe sending kids out into the yard, not knowing who might pop by, or what might be flying overhead. Supervised play may be available, but limited to bouncing around for an hour while moms get gocked at or even harassed, and in such environments, kids engage in physical play that doesn’t necessarily require interaction with other kids. They might see each other, exchange a word or two, such as “move” or “careful” and there you have it, play time is over and no bonds were created, no links made.
Friendship is characterized by mutual sympathy, honesty, altruism and understanding and is fostered by time spent in each other’s company, in the pursuit of enjoyable activities, feeling free to be oneself and make mistakes, without feeling judged. This becomes increasingly important as kids grow into young adults, valuing each other’s viewpoints and relish being a part of a bigger whole.
If at first geographical closeness might be the determining factor, parents can facilitate a more sophisticated outlook by seeking out further alliances with parents who share more than location, perhaps a philosophy, a way of life, a world view. These friendships can then blossom into life long relationships that can enrich one’s life in countless and invaluable ways. Making friends is a process, and it is facilitated by proximity, regular interaction and opportunities to share ideas, feelings and moments with each other. The Caterpillar Cafe aims at being this catalyst for moms seeking out meaningful interactions to enrich their kids’ lives as well as their own. But before you toss this blog to the side as a meager attempt at self promotion, let me share with you that I am in the same boat, a mom, seeking meaningful interactions for my kids and with like minded moms in this city that we now call our own. I know I am not alone, but after years of waiting for someone like me to make this opportunity available, I decided to facilitate it myself, and invite you to come along and see for yourself if it’s as valuable for you as it is for us.