Together but Separate

The girls have had some good friends in their short lifespan. Riley made many friends in daycare but always had a few very special ones. Now in elementary school, she has many friends but has had very different friend dynamics. Maddie has just started taking interest in having longstanding friends. She has always been social, but now “best friend” has been added to her vocabulary and it is used selectively.

When it comes to the girls’ friends, however, one very distinct thing has changed. They aren’t the same.

We’ve been very lucky to have found good friends in this town who have kids around the same age as both Riley and Maddie. They have enjoyed playdates where both girls have had a companion and they all played together. Till now, that’s all they’ve known.

Now, their friends are their own. Only their own.

Recently both girls have started wanting to see their friends much more often. Their need for time with their friends has caused two dilemmas: 1) How do I contact their moms, and 2) How to separate the girls. So far, I have approached the first dilemma by suggesting the girls invite over only the friends whose numbers I have from past birthday parties. That’s worked pretty well. Although I did write down my phone number on a piece of paper for Riley to give to a friend at school whose number I did not have. It’s hard to tell whose backpack that number ended up in, but no one called.

The second was much harder. I have spent the entirety of the girls’ lives encouraging a really close friendship between the two of them. Now I have found the need to encourage them to have separate lives. The two concepts have been hard for me to reconcile in my head. Although, Lesley did accidentally share the subject matter of one of her conversations with her sisters this week that has made me feel better about the girls not sharing everything. Thank you, Lesley!

Feeling especially conflicted one night, I reached out to my aunt who raised two very close sisters. She echoed what I knew. They need to know who they are apart.

So, the last two weekends we had over the girls’ friends. One at a time, of course; I’m not a masochist, after all. To my surprise, the girls did really well. They didn’t expect the other to play with them when that sister’s friend was over and even came down to spend time with me instead of bothering the playdate. For me, it was interesting seeing the people they were outside of the sister dynamic. My aunt’s advice finally made sense to me. They do need to be their own people.

They will be sisters forever, but having good friends is just as important.