When I was in kindergarten I regularly wrote letters to my best friend. They all said the same thing:
I love you.
The message was clear, concise, to the point. Plus I was in kindergarten so the words that I knew how to write were limited. I don't recall if she ever wrote anything back to me, but that wasn't what was important to me. What mattered to me was getting my feelings out, on paper, and making sure that she knew we were BFFs.
I shared this story of my love for my bestie with Alana, my always friendly kindergartener. This inspired her to write a letter of her own, which I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of before she gave it away this morning.
Her letter said:
I love you.
She had no hesitation to write this letter. She even added a heart made of glitter glue in the corner. Glitter really solidifies the message she's trying to convey.
When she took her letter to school this morning I was kind of nervous for her. Although I know the recipient is a nice little girl who isn't about to crumple up the token of Alana's affection and throw it on the ground, I still feared her reaction. I was afraid of rejection for her, and its not even me putting my feelings out on the line. From a distance it appeared as if she really liked her letter, glitter heart and all. She carried it around the playground and didn't throw it down or anything.
Alana is never afraid to be anyone's friend. She isn't scared of rejection, or of them not liking her back. She just wants to play and laugh maniacally and run around till her face is red. She greets all of her classmates with the same enthusiasm everyday, hugs her teacher, high fives random aides at the playground.That's a good quality to have. Especially in kindergarten. But as her mom I'm scared for her. There will at some point be a mean little kid who doesn't want to be her friend. Who doesn't want to hear about how she went and saw ParaNorman. How she brought Spaghettios in her Tinkerbell thermos for lunch today. Then eventually there will be boys. Boys who don't like her back. Boys who are mean. Boys who break her heart. And I can't do anything to stop it. I don't want those people to change her and make her afraid of being someone's friend. I don't want fear to stop her from telling people how she feels.
Kindergarten me may have been unafraid to tell Camille "I love her" in a letter. But every other version of me wouldn't have been so open about my feelings. I was always afraid of rejection. Afraid of mean kids. Outgoing kids who didn't seem to care what others thought of them. Afraid of not being liked back. I never "made the first move" in friendship or with boys. If they weren't nice first, if they didn't show interest first, I didn't even talk to them. I never invited myself anywhere, because I didn't want to be unwanted. I waited till the other person said something first, to insure they were really my friend. With every high school boyfriend I ever had I was constantly wondering if he still liked me, if he was going to break up with me, if he thought I was annoying, if he liked somebody else better.
I wanted to be liked, but I wasn't about to talk to anyone so that they could get to know me. I didn't outgrow that till at least 18. I was so afraid of being that one person there that no one liked. No one wants to be the smelly kid, the weird kid, the ugly kid, the one who stands out because they just can't help it. I lacked the courage to stand out, but I wanted to be noticed. That's a weird combination. And a difficult one, because I wanted to be noticed for the right reasons, not because there was a "Kick me" sign on my back.
Alana is always loving, always open about how much she likes people, always ready to party. Everyone is her friend, even if she's only known them for 10 minutes. She's brave enough to let everyone know how much she likes them and lucky enough that so far everyone likes her back.