Dia is H’s local sweetheart. The mother and H bonded over their pets, her pug and our Scotch, and Dia grew up around both these little animals. When I inherited H’s social circle, which basically included just Dia, her mum and her pug, they landed up being the only ones I socialized with in the apartment complex as well. I’ve told you already about how poor my socializing skills are.
These days, because of Dia, there are a few other 6 and 7 year olds that have joined my friends’ circle. They yell, squeak and scamper away every time I walk out with Scotch. They dare each other into petting Scotch when we sit in the park in the evenings. Not Dia of course, she needs no dare to touch her big beast.
I had a very interesting conversation with Dia, and her friends, lets call them Seetha and Geetha (because I don’t know or understand the overly complicated, mythological, and extremely cryptic name that their parents gave them after spending a few too many hours on ‘100 unique baby names’ websites).
As I pull into the apartment at the end of the day, the three girls leave their game of examining the dirt on the path to the parking lot, and move over to the side. They see my car and me behind the wheels and start waving frantically; I lower my window and the conversation begins.
Me: Hello, girls!
Dia, Seetha, Geetha: HIIIIII! Where’s the dog?
Me: I left her in college. She wanted to study something about eating children.
D, S & G: <Teeeheeeee> Did you get any friendship bands today? Look how many we got?
<And they go on to count the 5 on Dia’s wrist, the 4 on Seetha and Geetha’s>
Me: Very nice. I dint get any; looks like I don’t have any friends after all.
D, S & G: <Gigggle, giggle>
S: Look at the one that Dia gave me, and this one Geetha gave me, and this one is from my school friend Anivaary.
Me: WOW! Where is mine? You dint give me a friendship band.
S: Noooooo! Because you are not my friend, and nobody gave you friendship band anyway.
D: Here you go! You can have mine.
<And she handed me this bright pink, bedazzled friendship band that she was wearing in her hand>
Me: Awwwwh! Thank you, Dia. But you keep it. I don’t want one.
S: Arrey. Anyway that band wont fit her hand, na?
And with that tiny, baby-sized bruise to my ego, I drove away.
A few things moved me about the conversation. One, Dia and I have spent very little time together. There was that one time when she told me about her plan to put a ladder all the way up to the moon. We got stuck in the electric cables. But, beyond that, we haven’t spent as much time as she and H have in the past. And yet, she did not think for a second before sacrificing her own friendship band for me. Some kids have such an open definition of friendship. Or, maybe some kids attach very little value to that outwardly display of friendship through a band. I’m happy for this young girl no matter what.
Second, Seetha already has a sense of some very adolescent concepts like cliques, popularity and standard behaviors. Kids at this age already know what it means to be cool versus being a nerd. They already consider the number of friendship bands to automatically signify the number of friends; and more friends automatically makes you the popular catch of the class. It’s these expectations that will translate very soon into the number of friends on social media, real or not. This is definitely not a new trend, because I remember the craze for friendship bands even when I was in school. Even back then there was a craze to join the popular girls’ group, or look up to them for the latest fashion trends.
Of course, when I was in school, we dint have the dark monsters of the virtual world, watching and stalking us every step of the way. We had real monsters, but they somehow seemed more manageable.
“Wow! You are very morose, aren’t you? Such a sweet and innocent concept called friends, especially from 6 year olds, and here you are already connecting it to stalking, molestation and rape. Take a chill pill now and then, S.
What’s this here? Smells off.” Scotch