Last night in class my Professor was outlining the “stages of friendship.”
She pointed out that kids in elementary school generally think of friends as people who they spend a lot of time with, or are similarly aged to them, OR are people who they see a certain reward involved with interacting with them
Immediately I was catapulted back to 2nd grade. My mother was the ultimate CHAMPION of making me have play dates with kids from my class that I didn’t really want to have play dates with. I have distinct memories of her explaining to me that I had to play with some people sometimes to be nice, because they didn’t have that many friends.
And obvs I hated this.
I remember one girl from class, Jenna, the same Jenna who in first grade cornered me in the bathroom and told me that the pope was going to come and whisk me off to hell because I didn’t believe in Jesus. Jenna if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, you may be a very lovely person now but in elementary school you were simply not my cup of tea.
Jenna had come to Forest Park Elementary with one, very well established, best friend forever, this girl named Kathy. Their mothers were friends and they had, up until kindergarten, grown up together. Of course, as things tend to happen, Kathy branched out and added some more friends to her circle whereas Jenna was content to never have another friend ever other than Kathy. Que sera, sera.
So, my mother, being the altruist that she was, accepted playdates from Jenna’s mother, which I typically loathed. The only reason I would ever go willingly to Jenna’s house was when I knew her mother would be home. There was a very good reason for this….
See, Jenna had an older brother and a whole treasure trunk full of his hand me down halloween costumes, supplemented with her own former ballet and ice skating costumes. Jenna’s mother
(god bless her for knowing how to bribe children into being her daughter’s friend.) would devise for us, a game of “Halloween” wherein we would spend some time dressing up in different costumes and then we would venture down to the kitchen and we would “Trick-or-Treat.”
aka Jenna’s mom would hold out a plastic pumpkin from the top of the fridge filled with candy. We would fill our hands up with treats, run back upstairs, eat them, and then find a new costume and start the process all over again.
I enjoyed this a lot. Possibly more than the average kid, because it felt as if we never had candy at our house! I liked it so much that I tricked myself into believing, for awhile, that I actually did enjoy playing with Jenna. I have memories of more than one afternoon spent pretend trick-or-treating in her kitchen. I also recall one time where I had recruited more girls from our class to come to her house, after a grand opus of candy filled expectations. But eventually the novelty of the reward ran out, and nothing, not even promises of unlimited starbursts and sweet-tarts could make me wanna go to Jenna’s house for a playdate.
Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy. Nothing gold can stay.