“So, buddy… how’s everything going with Joey? He seemed really nice on the class trip,” I tentatively started.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” grumbled my 9-year old.
“Oh.” I tried to sound casual. “Did something happen?”
“Nothing.” Silence. “Except that in stupid gym class, when we were playing a dumb game of volleyball, I accidentally hit him with the ball and he got mad at me and I said I was sorry, but he kept being mad at me and getting other people mad at me during recess and then at lunch kept bringing it up and wouldn’t stop. I mean, is that how a friend is supposed to act?”
I hugged my passionate, hurt boy a little tighter.
“Is there anyone else you can hang out with, you know, until things get better?” I asked cautiously.
“Not really,” he replied, defeated.
“Do you want to try a different school? Meet new kids that you’ll be meeting in middle school in one year anyway?” I want to make things right, but am not sure if this would help matters any. Not having a best friend has been a perpetual concern since second grade. No one seems to be just the right fit. There are sleepovers from which he comes home early. There are parties, where he hangs out with a kid or two, but inevitably is alone by the end. He was hanging out with a group of girls at recess, but that stopped mid-third grade when we talked about how he thought the other boys thought that odd.
“I just don’t understand why I don’t have friends here,” came his response.
“I know, buddy. You really had some amazing friends before we moved. I’m really sorry,” I offered.
Tears start. Shoulders shudder.
“You are a good friend. Just remember –”
“Don’t say it, Mom,” he blurted.
“But, don’t you remember…”
“Don’t say his name. I miss him so much,” he croaked.
“Ok. I won’t.”
“Why can’t I have a best friend like Wade? I miss him,” he uttered through tears and sobs.
“You will. You will again some day.” Then, all I could do was hug him until he fell to sleep.