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Why Doesn't My Daughter Have a BFF?

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Growing up, I was never a kid who had a best friend, that special someone who was so close that we were practically sisters, and everyone knew that we were each other’s number one. I remember having plenty of friends, but there was always something so compelling about the idea of having one true better-than-all-the-rest friend that I ended up yearning for it for years. It wasn’t until 7th grade that I paired off with another girl who became my BFF. The day we got our sterling silver friendship rings was one of the happiest days of my life.

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And because the mechanics of genetics are fuzzy to me, the consummate English major, I was worried that my kids would end up like me: unable to form a “best” friendship until their late-tween years. Worse, I was worried that they would feel bereft for not having formed that particular kind of exclusive friendship that always looked so soothing and special to me.

Since my daughter started school, I’ve been watching intently to see if she has latched on to anyone. I am forever scoping out the evidence of a budding best friendship. She has not yet formed that kind of bond with anyone, and her teachers continue to report that she’s “friends with everyone” and socializes in an age-appropriate way. When I ask about her pairing off with anyone in particular, they sense my anxiety. They assure me that there is nothing abnormal about a 4-year-old who has not picked a best friend.

“What’s a best friend?” she asked.

I want to believe them. And mostly I do. My daughter is happy about going to school and comes home with stories about playing with lots of different kids in her class. I ask her if she wants to set up any playdates, and, while she’s always game, she never chooses the same kid twice. I admire her openness and ability to embrace lots of different kids as her friends. But still I have wondered if she wished she had a best friend. So, I asked her.

“What’s a best friend?” she asked. I told her it was someone who you always wanted to be with more than anyone else. “Like a favorite,” I explained. I figured the fact that I had to explain it to her confirmed that she wasn’t losing sleep over this, but then she gave me an answer I never expected. “I’m my own best friend, because I like to play with myself. I’m my favorite.”

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All righty, then. I guess when you feel that way about yourself, you don’t need to search so hard for a best friend. So I won’t be wringing my hands about the status of her friendships anymore. She’s got it covered. I should just sit back and learn from her.

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