Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

A lovely lady came back to our house after church today with her kids. They’ve been coming along for a few weeks – we’ve known them longer – and the kids wanted to play with the Engineer so they all piled back for a bit before lunch. We’re planning the whole family to join us for a meal in a couple of weeks so that her husband can join us too. It was great to chat with her and get to know her better and before she left I asked her for her mobile number, so I could send her reminders about the activities for the kids over half term (Dreamer organises some brilliant informal drop in sessions in the afternoons most holidays now).

I’ve never properly asked her name I don’t think, but I have been calling her one thing. Just to check, I asked her how to spell it, and she gave me a different name. A lovely name, but unusual. She told me she often calls herself something else (that I’d been calling her) when she meets new people because it was more familiar to them. This made me sad – that she’d felt the need to change her name. She also said that she prefers her real name, so I’ll be using that from now on.

If we’d not had that longer time today I’d not have known her real name. A quick five minutes after church doesn’t allow us to really get to know one another. To know each other by name. We need time to get to know one another. The challenge in a busy world is to make and take that time. So that we can begin to know one another as the Lord knows his people:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

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In my quest for suitable books for the young people on our Pathfinder venture this summer, I picked up School Survival by Catherine and Louise House. Louise is Catherine’s school age daughter and some of this book is based on the experiences she had when she moved school. And although it’s called School Survival, it’s particularly about friendship and working that through, with a single chapter about starting in a new school. It is very suitable for the Pathfinder age group (11-14) as it covers many issues faced as young people move on to secondary school.

The book is a combination of stories, quizzes, activities and bible study and is split into 14 chapters, including ones on making friends, bullying, gossip, prayer and church. It might be suitable for a Year Six primary school leaver to study over the summer holidays, or for family devotions or even as an outline for a church Pathfinder group to study over a few weeks (the chapters are uneven in size, so some could be combined). I’ll be ordering a few copies for our camp bookstall.

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My five year old son, the Engineer, is very good at making friends. So when he started telling me about his new friend Cap a few weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. Then we found out that Cap was living with his mum and her partner, and another couple, just over the road. And the Engineer started talking about wanting Cap to come over to play.

So Cap came to visit us one afternoon after school. The two of them had a very happy time, playing out in our roomy garden. Cap’s house doesn’t really have a garden to speak of, and the small yard there is home to two Staffies. The two boys got on so well. The Engineer started talking about Cap as his ‘best friend’.

Lots of fun with Cap and his family ensued over the following weeks – a trip to the park, a big Sunday barbecue and happy school runs back and forth with chasing and squealing, as little boys love so much. Cap’s mum and her other half joined us at my school parent’s coffee morning. All seemed happy and stable. Cap’s mum told me how contented he was and how he was benefitting from going to school and how much he was loving it.

Then, just before half term, I heard that there were some housing problems and that Cap and his family were having to move out. Some parishioners started looking for suitable housing for them. I spoke to Cap’s mum in the street early in half term week – she looked sad and worried but said they were looking for somewhere new to live. ‘You can always stop with us for a bit if you need to’ I told her, but she said they had some new friends  down the road who’d said they could stay with them.

That was the last time I saw her. Her housemate came over to the Vicarage on Thursday and asked if we’d seen her. She, Cap and her partner had disappeared. And hadn’t paid the rent. And now someone else has told us that they’ve moved to Wales.

I’m glad I knew before school started back. I was able to tell the Engineer. He was amazingly philosophical about it:

Cap is still my friend. And I have lots of other friends.

But still I’m sad for my son, losing a friend he was getting on with so well. But I’m more sad for Cap, who’s moved away from a school where he was happy and beginning to feel settled. I’m sad for his mum & her partner, both barely out of their teens, and both carrying a whole lot of baggage that can’t simply be shed by moving towns.

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