Two little girls stood staring across the screen door. Curious. Hesitant. Surveying each-other.
Both wore ridiculous dresses adorned with miles of ruffles. Both had disheveled blonde hair and cheeks flushed red from exertion. They could have been looking in the mirror.
The moms stood back, allowing this introduction to play out. One girl absentmindedly swirled, enjoying her skirt’s impressive radius. The other smiled in admiration. She knew a good twirly skirt when she saw one.
In a flash, the girls linked arms and dashed down the hall, disappearing into the playroom in a sea of giggles and shrieks.
A friendship was born.
Those two girls were inseparable for the next six years. They moved seamlessly between each-other’s homes as if neither property possessed door or boundary. No part of the home or yard was off-limits. And rarely were they denied when they asked to play, eat, sleep or make colossal messes at each-other’s houses.
My oldest daughter and her friend slowly grew apart over the years after we moved away. And without realizing it, I grew away from my open-door policy regarding friends and playtime.
My younger daughter now has close friends on our new street. But her experience has been the opposite of her older sister’s. In my weariness and reluctance to have a house full of extra kids, she and her friends are often relegated to the yard when spending time together. They are told no more far often than yes when they ask to play inside. Crazy messes are out of the question. And while I certainly have fed my share of extra kids, I am more impatient with snack requests than I ever was with my firstborn.