Mix It Up AKA The Friendship Orange

Mix It Up AKA The Friendship Orange

Mix It Up

Little Lion’s second grade teachers have started a new thing this year and I love it.  I don’t know what they call it, but I’m officially calling it “Mix It Up”.  Each month, they are placed at certain lunch tables on Wednesdays and that is their Wednesday lunch group.  The teachers mix up the kids so they sit with that group on Wednesdays only.  The rest of the week, they get to choose where to sit.

It’s a brilliant idea.  Little Lion is making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.  Even if one of her old friends called her his ‘enemy’ the other day.  Sigh.  I told her to work it out and she said she tried.  Out of respect for Little Lion and her friend (and her friend’s family), I won’t talk about details.  But there’s a bit of a history there.  And we (the moms) haven’t talked about it, so I’m uncertain about her perspective.  

Why haven’t we talked about it?  Well, I’ve been burned before.  Let’s just leave it at that. (But I will say that if Little Lion’s friend’s mom is reading this, I’m open to talk…..)

Back to “mix it up”, I’m going to explain why it’s a brilliant idea.  You see, this is the age when certain kids may start to feel left out or left behind.  Some of the boys start to play with only the boys and some of the girls start to play with only the girls.  But the kids in Little Lion’s grade at school like to mix it up.  And Little Lion has many friends who are boys and many who are girls.  And many classmates who she doesn’t yet know may be a kindred spirit.  

I like to think that Mini Me found “her people” when she was in third grade.  She bonded with some girls on a different level than she had before.  Part of it was because she had a ‘new’ group in her third grade class.  So why not try to do it earlier? (Especially as establishing those friendships earlier on is much better for when they get to the awkward, sometimes drama-filled, stages of middle school and beyond….)

If I had to label myself, I would say that I’m an introvert.  I’m outgoing and talkative when I’m at work because you and your little one are here to see me.  And I want to get to know you.  And if I’m out for coffee with one or two of my friends, I’m chatty.  But if you throw me into a dinner party with a larger group, or into a Mommy and Me playdate group (been there, done that, and am grateful that I still have 3-4 friends from that group), I might be the more ‘sit-back-and-listen’ type of person.  

And if I interrupt you, I’m not trying to be rude.  I apologize—it’s just the physician in me.  I’m used to interrupting all day because I often have limited time in overbooked appointments so sometimes (often), I have to interrupt in order to get to the heart of the matter.  

So even though I have seen how outgoing and chatty my Little Lion or Mini Me can be, I’ve been told by many teachers how ‘quiet’ Little Lion is at school.  Or that she could participate more.  The first time I heard it in PreK, I was flabbergasted.  This is my little one who is NOT afraid to speak her mind.  But when she is in a group setting, she gets quiet.  

And when she is on the playground with 120 other kids, sometimes she has trouble finding her friends.  

So Wednesday lunch tables are a GREAT way to make new ones.

The Friendship Orange

When I was a sophomore in high school, my twin and I joined a school trip to London featuring various theater productions.  While the experience was amazing in so many ways, one thing I remember most is ‘The Friendship Orange’.

While we traveled around with the group, Melissa and I hung out with six other classmates who we never got a chance to know before.  The eight of us bonded and had a wonderful time, a big feat if you recall high school dynamics.  I’m still friends with three of them: my sis, my friend who now lives in NY, and my lovely friend who passed away several years ago.  Yes, I still count her as my friend even though we lost touch because she was an important person to me in my last years of high school.  I still remember her enthusiasm and her bright smile, and her ability to make those around her laugh like crazy.  T, you are missed and loved by many more than you know.

Alas, we grew up in a time before digital cameras and social media.  What is the Friendship Orange?  One day out in the city, we all split an orange and toasted our slices to our newfound friendships.  If Instagram was around at the time, you’d see multiple posts of a silly group of American teens blocking a sidewalk in London, and raising pieces of fruit in honor of finding new friends.

Friends who might not have bonded without first being thrown together. :D

I often encourage my kids to reach out to others but I know that sometimes it can be hard.  So, thank you for implementing the Wednesday lunch tables.  I hope it encourages Little Lion and her old friend to bond once again.

Tell Dr. Bookworm!

Did you make a friend in unusual circumstances?  Or, have you ever bonded with someone you never thought you would be friends with?

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