There are a few specific sounds that make my face crunch up and my lips curl. The sound of a knife on a dinner plate, someone mouth breathing in a quiet public place, and when I hear a little girl call someone her BFF.
BFF. Best Friends Forever. Seems innocent enough, but in a world when words can mean so little or so much, it’s a term that has the potential to make someone smile or someone cry. It’s why I won’t let my own children have a BFF or a bestie or, if we’re kicking it really old school, a best friend.
I didn’t have a best friend when I was growing up. I had a lot of friends who said they had best friends that weren’t me, and I remember wishing I had a best friend or at least someone willing to share a half of a heart necklace with. I secretly envied the girls who walked around in pairs, sporting their pendants that fit together like a puzzle. Instead I learned to turn the other way and find strength on my own. Without a necklace.
So while at a recent girls only event I heard someone call another girl her BFF while on my watch, I had to stop and spread my words of wisdom.
“You know, I don’t let my own kids have BFF’s. They’re only allowed to have good friends, but never a best friend. Having a best friend is great if you are one of those two people, but chances are there is someone nearby who wishes she had a few letters thrown her way, and how would you feel if two girls you knew excluded you because they are BFF’s?”
Their nine-year-old eyes stared at me like I was an alien with fourteen ears. I didn’t expect anything less, so after saying my piece I went on to whatever I needed to do next. When the session was over, I heard my own child laugh and say, “I heard you giving them the old’ ‘no BFF’ speech.”
I did. And I would do it again, and I would give it to every kid I know, boys and girls. Having kids in the most fragile, horrible, and terrifying age group, middle school, I wish more parents put the kibosh on the BFF because I think for every kid wearing a half a heart necklace, there’s another one out there with a real broken heart. I will shout it from the rooftops because there is a value of friendship in every child, and every one of them should know how good it feels to be cared about.
So bring on the RGF’s, the Really Good Friends, the delightful giggles of gaggles where full hearts reign and make the sounds that are music to my ears.
Originally written 3.13.16