my sweet, quirky girl went to vbs this past week. it was a 4 night event at a church where she's gone over the past 4 summers, but we don't go to church there & we don't know anyone who does. brooke really looks forward to going every summer & this year it took a bit of arranging since we've only got one car & chris works evenings, but it was worked out because it was the one thing she said when our car died last winter - "does this mean i can't go to vbs next summer?!" funny how, as parents, you're willing to suffer through an awful lot of inconvenience for your kids when there's something they really want or need to do.
so far, every year that brooke has gone, she has latched on to a particular kid on the first night & refused to release them from her friendship until the final night of festivities. as far as i can tell, she bases her choice of a partner solely on appearance. she doesn't know any of them, she doesn't have any sort of interviewing process, she just looks around her group as soon as they all congregate & chooses a girl who's small & looks somewhat like her. she'll push her way through the sea of children to get beside the girl of her choosing & if she has to throw some elbows or yell at someone to get out of her way in the process, she's certainly not too good to do so. watching from afar, it's like she does "eeny, meeny, miny mo. catch a best friend by the toe. if she hollers, don't let go! eeny, meeny, miny mo. my mother said to pick the very best friend & you are IT! ready or not, you're my friend!" and from that moment on, in brooke's mind, that kid is her new bff.
she's pretty much oblivious to social cues, so the kid would have to be blatantly rude to her more than once for her to even consider releasing them from their unsigned friend contract. she wants to hold hands & pick them up & try on their shoes & do back to back to determine who's taller. she wants to trade silly bands & tell them all her deepest secrets while sitting in bible class. she wants to eat off their plate during dinner & whisper that she sleeps commando except when she's having a sleep over.
sometimes she lands on a friend who is thrilled to be saved the work of finding a friend & embraces the whole package of brooke & her instant love. other times she gets someone who is very uncomfortable with this strange process of friending & doesn't appreciate their choice in the matter being taken away. the girl this year was named cate & i think brooke probably picked her because she was the only kid in their group who was shorter than her. some of those other girls are about 5 feet tall & have already grown boobs, so i don't really blame her for feeling like she needed a partner in little-ness. cate didn't push brooke away, but she didn't embrace her either. brooke came home the first night & told me that cate didn't like to be touched. i'm not sure how that information came out, but i suspect the girl must have told her that flat out because it's not likely she'd have gleaned it based on body language or facial expression. she said she didn't hold her hand, but she couldn't resist picking her up anyway. no wonder the next 2 nights, when brooke came in & squealed cate's name happily, cate avoided eye contact and tried to walk on past.
but brooke is a very determined, if clueless, little girl & by the final night, cate appeared to have been won over. she looked happy to see brooke & she even invited her to cut in line so that they could stand together & chatter & touch each other's hair. they talked about clothes & justin beiber & it made my heart very happy to stand back & watch as cate called out to brooke to come over and sit next to her while they ate their popsicles. to see them comparing mosquito bites and bathing suits.
i'm glad for brooke that she doesn't catch a lot of the social under-currents because as kids get older, most of them aren't very nice. she misses most of the snotty comments & glares and judgemental cliques around her and a lot of the time, she wins out in the end because she got to have her friend of choice. she doesn't suffer from insecurity because she has enough goodness and positive reinforcement in her life that she doesn't need to look around and wonder what anyone thinks about her. she doesn't notice the looks or comments from other kids & sometimes adults and that has to be better. she can go to bed at night and thank God for herself & mean every word of it.