My Daughter's First Best Friend Breakup

by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

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My daughter Elby’s best friend, Dylan, is moving away and I’m devastated for her. It’s really the worst thing that’s happened to her -besides me coming home from the hospital with twins. 

How does Elby feel about it? I don’t know because I haven’t told her. I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll take the news with a grain of salt and not sob for an hour straight and immediately up her Zoloft prescription like some people (me).

I guess I’m anticipating my own sadness for her first loss - the loss of a ready playmate. In truth, her parents are only moving about thirty miles away. But for me, mom of three who can barely get herself organized enough to drive to Trader Joe’s a few blocks away when we’re out of peanut butter crackers, they may as well be leaving the country.

I know I’m overreacting. I realize that eating an entire package of blueberry muffins was more about my lack of willpower and it’s probably overreaching to blame it on grief over Dylan’s imminent departure. But I am sad. This was Elby’s first friend that she could play with for hours and not get bored. The girls barely need supervision when they are together (if you don’t mind pencil markings in your shower that sort of resemble Helter Skelter - but, hey, that can easily be removed with a Clorox wipe so I’m not complaining).

Despite being five years old (a full year older than Elby) Dylan is kind to her best friend. She tolerates Elby’s tendency to burst into tears over not getting to down the slide first at the park or hearing that we’re out of Princess Spaghetti-O’s. Dylan will gently say “It’s okay Elby. I’m still your friend.” Because at four, you tend to worry that a small fight means the other person doesn’t like you anymore. For some people this is true at forty-two as well. But my husband has learned to deal with it.

Dylan turned my daughter into a princess fanatic. Dylan showed Elby how to make a sand castle at the park out of wet sand (she neglected to teach her how to not bring said sand into the house and how to not grind it into the Oriental rug - but, hey, baby steps), she also teaches her patience, endurance and bravery. Elby teaches Dylan to be silly and dance like a crazy person around the living room or talk in funny voices. Elby also taught Dylan how to be sarcastic, which I find hilarious but I’m not 100% sure her mom does too.

My daughter’s friendship with Dylan started as an easy convenience for me and Dylan’s mom, Cari. The girls were in the same class in preschool and played together extremely well. Somehow it just seemed like less work to have Dylan over at our house after school sometimes or on the weekend to entertain Elby while I hung with the twins.

Pretty soon it was a regular occurrence. And soon after that, Cari and I became fast friends - sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio after work while picking up our kid from the other’s home while chatting about lack of time to exercise, how much we love our children’s preschool and eventually moving to topics like how much we appreciate each other’s husband’s butts. (I’m sorry but her husband Dave does have a great caboose.)

When you have three kids under five, life tends to narrow to fewer and fewer friendship possibilities for you and your kids. It has to be easy. You have to like the parents but, more importantly, now you have to like the kid.

And I adore Dylan. I know her favorite color is pink, the only brand of macaroni and cheese she likes is Amy’s Organic which she refers to as “Ralph’s.” She only eats jelly sandwiches while Elby only eats peanut butter. She’s the only child I’ve met who’s obsessed with Wicked. She’s seen it twice and has all the dolls. When she watches a video, she likes to have the chair to herself. And she’s funny. When she first met me she accidentally called me Tina and even after realizing her mistake she took to calling me that on purpose.

It’s the strangest feeling when you hug, hold and comfort another person’s child. Not too long ago, Dylan felt sad and wanted to go home and see her mom. At first I didn’t know what to do because I’d never seen her bummed out, but when she collapsed in a little pool in my lap and I wrapped her up in my arms, I realized it wasn’t so different from holding my own daughter. Her skin was soft and smooth. She smelled sweet - like sand from the park mixed with outdoor air a little raspberry jam thrown in for good measure. I felt momentarily jealous that Cari gets to hug up on her little smiling girl every day.

Elby will be over this move in no time. And when she’s my age, unless we’ve kept in touch with Cari and Dave over the years, Elby will no longer even recall that Dylan was her best friend.

But I will. So maybe, I’m devastated for myself. Let’s just hope that I handle her first break up a little better than this. Hey, I’m just a mother-in-progress.

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