It's the end of Superkids, a camp for K-2 students sponsored by my university's early childhood education program. Our children have attended every year they've been eligible; Archer went for three years and Cady Gray has one more year to go.
So for five years running we've heard the same songs at the graduation ceremony, with the same hand gestures and CD accompaniment. Before the program began, Archer, sitting with me in the audience, told me how mixed up the track numbers and CD changes were before the leaders put all the songs on the same recordable CD. His attendance coincided with the height of his obsession with digital displays and time.
Cady Gray is very receptive to the curriculum's message of empowerment through learning, high self-esteem, and the importance of friendship. On our way home from dinner tonight, she essayed the proposition that friendship isn't a want, but a need. I agreed, talking about all the things we can't accomplish by ourselves, and praising her and Archer for being good friends and giving each other someone to depend on and someone to trust.
I've had a number of good friends -- best friends, the kind that are needs and not wants -- in my life. But I don't think of myself as a person who's good at friendship. Social media has made it easier; I can be aware of people's needs, try to help when I can, and offer compliments and advice without relying on frequent physical meetings. Because as a homebody, I treasure my family time and my solitude, and anyone who knows me would agree that I'm not proactively sociable.
Because easy friendship is not one of my talents, therefore, I treasure all the more the friends who stick with me in the most friendly of situations. They invite my kids over, water the plants, pick up the mail, host the barbecues, stop by for the small talk. The ones that are farther away remember the birthdays, check in regularly, play "remember when," and generally let me know that when needed, they will be there.
If July 4 is about anything, it is about solidarity. Independence from a colonial power didn't mean individual freedom as much as it meant greater dependence on each other -- a need for trust, for solid relationships, for institutions, for respect. I'm a huge fan of my individual freedom, but find myself nurturing a growing appreciation, year after year, for those who make themselves available as friends. Thank you, one and all.