Humans are wired for connection. Many times this connection comes from our families, but often our friends fill this need too.
I have many groups of friends from teaching friends to online friends to family friends to longtime high school friends. They have all shaped who I am during the different stages of my life. I can't imagine my life without any of them.
If you have been a long-time reader of my blog, you know about my high school friends - the EJDs, also known as The Eight Jelly Donuts. Most of us have been friends for over 40 years even as we have lived from all four corners of the country and from one coast to the other.
Together, we have been through marriage and divorce, birth and infertility, eating disorders and addiction, cancer scares and death of parents, career changes and life changes, grandkids and menopause. And through it all, we have remained friends.
We have zoomed several times during this isolation period. Angie, my friend-turned-sister-in-law has been "playing" a new kind of Scrabble game. She chooses a theme for a board and builds words to fit that theme while challenging herself to use all of the letters. This is her EJD board.
This board reminds me of my students. I worry about them. Middle school is a time for change not only physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also socially. This is the time when friend groups change. Elementary friend groups evolve into middle school groups, which can set the course for many years ahead.
I have had students tell me the worst part of this pandemic is not being able to be with their friends. I have parents who are allowing kids to see each other while other parents are not. In the middle of this, kids are trying to figure out where they belong. Some feel their friends are changing and some are moving on without them. Some are trying to hang on to the friends they have while trying to understand who their true friends are.
Middle school life is messy even without a pandemic.
They are searching for connection. They need connection.
I reassure them by telling them my own friend stories while they are rewriting theirs. Life revision is hard. They are beginning to place the tiles on their own Scrabble boards. In the years to come, I want them to be able to use all of the letters and to connect all of their words in their own beautiful stories.
And I pray that they become blessed with their own EJDs.
You are very fortunate to have such long lasting friendships. I like your term "life revision." I have never thought of change this way. Yes, the time for teenagers is complicated. I listened to a psychologist who said that this part of their development is all about moving further away from parents and being together with friends, and right now the poor kids are stuck with their parents and away from their friends. Tough.ReplyDelete
I hadn't thought about that, Leigh Anne. I understand your concern and am glad you are able to still be connected wtih them to reassure them through the difficult moments they are in.ReplyDelete
The scrabble board is beautiful. What a precious memory.
While family is important in all of our lives, as teenagers, they need other connections as well. This is a time to spread their wings, but they are unable to at the moment. Love the scrabble board and the words that have been created.ReplyDelete
You are blessed with so many groups of friends! I am grateful to belong to one of the groups. :-)ReplyDelete
I understand your worry about your students. This pandemic will have an effect on them more than most.
Thinking of your students tonight.ReplyDelete
Also, the name Eight Jelly Donuts is fantastic, and I love that Scrabble idea!
What a fun way to use a Scrabble board -- what a great group of friends. I'm so glad you are writing with us. It is a treat to have these glimpses into your life.ReplyDelete
"Life revision is hard." Yes. 100%.ReplyDelete
Your friends sound amazing. You are so right about middle school being hard even when it's not a pandemic. Connection is so important.
I had to search for and read what else you had to say about the EJDs! How amazing for this group to travel together over so many years. What a heart connection you have for your middle school students!ReplyDelete
Oh, I remember your EJDs. Funny how much we know about each other from being blogging buddies. I share your concern about our middle school students. One of the girls in our book club is never allowed outside her home. I so look forward to getting outside for a walk, it's my solace and joy. People ask if my husband and I walk together. Nope, it's our time away from each other (sometimes needed)!ReplyDelete