Add it up and start from there.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with our six-year-old neighbor about her friends in her class at school. She told me that most of her friends are boys, and that she doesn’t really hang out with the girls in her class. Her mom mentioned two girls who are in her class who are always friendly to her, and she said, “Yes, but they are best friends with each other. They don’t need me.”

I keep thinking about that, whether I knew that sort of thing when I was six. It’s certainly something I have felt and struggled with, the idea of not being needed by people who have other people who are more important. I have said it before, with much more self-pity than my six-year-old neighbor.

Needing people means something different than what I used to think. It’s more about having a full life and people to share it with than being the most important person to someone. Most of the time. Sometimes I still feel disappointed that I don’t have a girlfriend I can always call to talk things out.

It broke my heart, really, to hear her say that. I didn’t say anything about how it would be okay, or point out that she had lots of friends. I didn’t try to minimize what she was saying. Instead, all I could say was, “We have all been there. And it is really hard.”

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