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We had found a church to call home, we moved to a neighborhood where we actually got to meet our neighbors, and a park to meet other parents. I made friends in an awesome MOPS group, and I was blessed with a mentor. But as I watch my two kids – they are teaching me all about friendship.

They teach me friendship is sometimes just for a season.

“Oh no mom, he is not my friend any more. He likes to play with Tim now.” They tell me without guilt or hurt feelings.

They teach me friendship can be built in seconds.

When we were waiting to get a table at our favorite restaurant, my oldest tells me: “That girl in the red dress, who was also waiting, is now my friend.”

They teach me that each friend has their own special value.

“I like Anna because she talks to me about all kinds of things. John is fun to play good guy games. Christie and I love to play kitty cat on the trampoline.”

They teach me friendship is a gift, one to hold, to cherish and to say thanks for.

“Mom, I made this craft for David, he is such a nice friend to me. I think my craft makes him happy.”

I came to understand friends are those ordinary, tough, special people put in my life for a purpose. Sometimes it is for 15 seconds – the friend in line at the grocery store. I don’t even know his name. Sometimes it is for 15 years – the friend I met in college. Sometimes it is just for a season – the friend who walked alongside me during my third pregnancy. Sometimes it is for a special purpose – the friend I share my hopes and dreams with and the one I share my gym membership. Sometimes it is to give – the friend I cook for and encourage. Sometimes it is to receive – the friend who listens to me, hour after hour.

All of them, all those ordinary people, my special friends have one thing in common: Only because I choose to open my eyes, my ears and my heart to those who happen to cross my path of life, am I able to call them my friends.

My kids taught me starting a friendship most of the time is just a matter of introducing yourself:
“Hi, I am Zarah. This is my brother Boaz. He is four years old. And I am three. What is your name? You want to play tag with us?” I hear her saying it over and over again at the playground.Minutes later they come running to me, telling me all about their new friend.

When they run off again I realize, embarrassed, I have been standing next to the mom of this new friend for at least ten minutes now, without asking her name. Maybe she just moved here, longing for a friend. Maybe her social agenda is completely filled. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter. This ordinary, but ever so special mom is placed in my life in this moment. Only if I dare to open my eyes, my ears and my heart to her, I might be able to call her my friend. Who knows, she might be a very special friend.

Jacodien Vreugdenhil is a Dutch girl who learned to embrace being an American mom and is learning a lot from her kids (5,3,1) on subjects such as friends, friendship, enjoying the moment and climbing trees.

What have your children taught you about friendship?