I was thinking today about the things in life we may take for granted and to be honest the list is quite long, but I’ve settled on friends. I don’t mean that we take for granted our friendships but the fact we have them at all.
I for one always thought that I struggled to make friends but then I look around me and back at the past. I may not have a large group of friends, but I have a really good selection. I know if I picked up the phone and called one of them for anything that they would be there and that’s something that some people don’t have. My forever friends aren’t all from the same pats of my life but rather from different times, which shows just how true they are. True friends don’t stay with you because you do the same things or know the same people. They stay because it feels right.
I remember being younger and playing with friends in primary school, partaking in every craze going, Pokémon, yo-yos, crazy bones, and everything else our parents probably hated. We ran around in our summer dresses pretending to be the spice girls whilst obsessively collecting their collectable photos for the album.
I remember growing up down a little cul-de-sac and all the kids were of similar ages, I suppose that’s the advantage of moving into a new build area. Everyone buys their first homes and starts families, I guess. We played out from the moment someone knocked on our door and asked our parents if we were allowed, we didn’t leave the cul-de-sac and came home when the streetlights came on. We spent hours with our dollies pretending we were parents and hours with our craft sets playing at being teachers. Summers spent on the playing field at the top of the street building forts and treehouses, not letting the boys play with our girl gang and Barbies, hundred of Barbies with missing shoes and as we got into our teenage and stopped playing out, we would still come together like friends and neighbours do.
As a teenager, I remember hanging around in my local park or friends back gardens whose parents were more laid back than mine. We would drink awful cheap cider and acted like mini adults. We partied, we drank, we smoked and stayed up late talking about absolute rubbish, thinking we were older than we were and worried about problems that seemed huge at the time but minuscule now.
As an early adult, like most do we drank, we partied and went out three or four nights a week, fuck paying the bills and being on time for work when we can have fun. We were stupid and immature and thought that because we were of adult age we could look after ourselves, but we were wrong. We weren’t ready for the things that life threw at us and we suffered for it.
We flicked between friend groups and changed our interests to fit in, as someone who doesn’t drive (I am learning… slowly all these years later) would you ever think I belong to a car club? No? well I did. We drove around for hours every night. Parked up in car parks and down quiet streets and probably irritated all the local residents, we camped out in little Ford Kas and Corsa’s and went to rallies and shows. We worked on cars in driveways, kitchens and anywhere you could. I knew what engines were in what cars, despite what insurance certificates said. If we look at youngsters driving now, they’re all driving financed new cars. Where is the pride of building up your own clapped-out banger and adding a spoiler?
As time went on, I grew more responsible and got my own place, focused more at work but still partied on the weekends. Slipping into new friend groups with ease. We spent weekends partying at the beach camping and drinking, listening to live bands, we swam in the dirty ocean without worrying about disease and would stay up hours chatting about life and what we want in the future unaware that we were already living our futures as we partied.
And then all of a sudden, we are full on adults, proper homes, proper jobs, responsibilities, beautiful children, marriages, divorces, and challenges that we fight and battle every day. We can come together when we all have time but it’s so difficult to schedule anything, but it doesn’t matter. We have different friends with different interest. Some will go to harry potter quiz night, some will come to your house for a cup of tea to sit and put the world to right, some will dye your hair, some you won’t see in months or even years but when you finally do it’s like you have never been apart.
My point of this is to say that over the years I have had many friend groups and found it relatively easy. Some came from location, some from work, some from circumstance but it was easy but what if it wasn’t? I look at William who is always alone, it doesn’t seem to bother him, but I wonder if he knows he doesn’t have friends, I wonder if it’s something he wants but he doesn’t know how to get it. Does he see children playing together and want it but it’s too hard for him? Or is it just something I want for him? I think about the children in his class and how they can interact with each other, and I want that for William. I want him to experience friendships, even the ones that crash and burn, the ones that you realise are one sided and the ones you will remember and cherish forever.
For now, William is happy on his own or at least I think he is. He’s so inside his own head and I would give up everything I have just to know what he is thinking. Is his inner voice as cute as the fleeting moments I’ve heard his real voice? Does his inner voice feel trapped within his disabilities? He forms connections with adults easily, I mean let be serious we have all seen him and Big Nan and that’s love and kinship, so he is capable, does he maybe just not like other children? Do they not engage with him in the way he likes or understands? Is that why he ignores them?
I look at this picture and he loves his dog, and Rusty loves him but is it enough? I will always be William’s mom; his advocate and I would like to think I will always be his best friend, but I do want more for him. I want what I had? What most people had?
William’s dad and I have booked his first proper birthday party for next year and we will be inviting his whole class which I am very much looking forward to, but I have this feeling that William won’t notice if his classmates are there or not. He will be more focused on Big Nan, his dad and his partner or me and Liam. I guess until we try these things, we just don’t know but I want him to have a friend. I want playdates and sleepovers and I guess in a way I want him to want that too.
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