Entering the Kindergarten yesterday, I was almost flattened by a little boy hurtling round the corner shouting "Finje is a ball, Finje is a ball!" I assumed I'd probably misheard him or misunderstood the German. It seemed like a bizarre choice of noun to wield as an insult.
"The Ball" was in the cloakroom, twiddling her hair and showing unusual interest in her left shoe. She didn't look up as I greeted her and I could see she had been crying. Apparently being called a ball, for a five-year-old, is a grave insult. Not only that, The Tormentor had taken things up a notch by announcing that he had broken friends with Finje and didn't want to be her friend ever again. Frankly didn't seem like much of a cross to bear to me, but Finje was sad.
Stroking her hair, waiting patiently for her to get a grip, I underwent a little flashback. The playground make/break friends culture is still a vivid memory and the pain and heartache it brings. It's only practice for adult life.
Learning how to become socially aware, how to negotiate our emotions, deal with setbacks and where to hit boys so they stop annoying you. That said, drying my girl's tears, I barely resisted the urge to go and give The Tormentor something to cry about.
Of course I didn't. What I really wanted was a mother-daughter on the importance of friends. Protect her from losers and guide her through the maze of life. Or something.
But Finje was skipping down the path. Within a matter of minutes her little head full of magic again.
My friends are varied and wonderful and I'm eternally grateful for their solid presence in my life. It's said that you should be able to count your real friend on one hand, but I'm not sure about that. From my first true love who has, to my amusement and pride, become rather a celebrity and famous as the thinking woman's crumpet, my very first friend from school with whom I've been in contact with for 35 years, to friends here in Germany, known only for a relatively short period of time but who have selflessly moved heaven and earth to help the "Englander", I have much more than a handful of people I treasure.
Finje will hopefully be as lucky as I am.
The Tormentor will probably end up my son-in-law!