I was over at Sarah Pylas‘ blog, Grenglish, last week, reading her lovely post, Best Friends, about how her son will be separated from his current best friends when he starts school in September. I commented that Mushroom was soon to move up to the toddler room (my baby’s no longer a baby!) at nursery and wondered how much he would miss his best buddy from the baby room, who’s a couple of months younger than him. Sarah reminded me how fickle they are at this young age, and reassured me that Mushroom would find it easy to make new friends. Of course, she was right. In fact, the first ‘settling in’ day in his new room at nursery, Mushroom was supposed to return to the baby room after his nap. He was led to the door, and he just stood there and frowned. Eventually, he was asked whether he wanted to go back to the toddler room, at which he nodded enthusiastically and ran off to play. So much for missing his best buddy.

Mushroom and one of his current 'best' friends

All this got me thinking about all the friends he’s made so far, including those that have lasted just the duration of an afternoon at the park, and how he goes about the business of making friends. The result was this simple guide – from Mushroom’s perspective – on how to make friends.

  • Meet someone you like the look of. Age unimportant. One of my favourite (non-family) friends is about 100 (he’s probably about 60 Mushroom – Mum). The first time we met he showed me how to put a leaf on a stick. He’s a genius
  • Go up to them and smile. Say something. It doesn’t matter what/whether they understand or not
  • If you get a positive response, you could try and give them cuddle. Warning: Not everyone likes this. Don’t go in too quick
  • Follow them around, mimic them a bit (not too much! You have to do your own thing a bit, too. Don’t lose yourself). Then try to get them to follow you.
  • Offer to share your snack with them.
  • If you’d like to see them again, try and get your Mum/Dad to make friends with their Mum/Dad. If you can’t talk yet, I find talking loudly and pointing wildly helps. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t see them again, the most important thing is to have fun
  • Wave and blow kisses when you/your friend has to leave. It doesn’t matter if they don’t see, it’s the thought that counts. If you really liked them it’s ok to cry. Best to let it out in the moment rather than dwell on it later.

Mushroom, like most toddlers, sees every child he meets – in the park, in the supermarket, in the street – as a potential new friend. He’s more shy with adults and defers to me before approaching new grown-ups but still sees them all the same way. I think this is a lovely way to look at the world and wonder if there come a point when as adults we – consciously or unconsciously – decide that we have ‘enough’ friends and stop making the effort. What do you think…?