After a field trip one day, these two little boys sat on a bench, relaxing and talking about washing their hair. True story. In some ways, these two boys had a rough start at the beginning of their friendship. They either loved each other or they were fighting--really fighting. Now, they mostly love each other and don't fight anymore--another true story. It took a long time for these two boys to understand each other and know how to be with one another--and this is the magic of long-term friendships.
For some families, homeschooling presents challenges of maintaining close friendships when families do not always do the same activities, and in the D.C. area, families tend to move a lot. But these two boys have been in City Kids together for three years--this year is their fourth. It is incredibly sweet and satisfying to watch our kids grow up together, learn together, and just learn how to be together. And the lessons they learn by having long-term friendships go beyond math, reading, and writing. Co-ops may not be for everyone, but for many of our families, they have provided a kind of stability that has allowed our kids to have it all--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our kids get close enough that they fight like siblings, and they learn about conflict resolution because they have to--they spend a lot of time together. The result has been that we have seen our kids grow in their friendships. They have learned how to be better listeners, how to be more careful with each other's feelings, how to be more respectful, and how to be more inclusive. And while it is not always perfect, that's o.k.; we want things to be a little messy. We want our kids to learn how to get mad and forgive, how to have misunderstandings and move on, and how to learn from their mistakes.
The journey for these two boys to this bench has been years in the making. And the journey is far from over; they still have a lot to learn from each other. Someday, they may be two old men on a bench, staring at a lake, talking about where their hair went. For now, they have years ahead of them to play, to fight, to learn, to explore the world, to get mad and forgive, and to share their secrets--how lucky they are to have each other for all of it.