Christina M. Currie: Social studies

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Christina M. Currie

Christina M. Currie's Touch of Spice column appears Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at director@craig-chamber.com

I've been quite interested in the more social aspects of my children's lives lately. It's endlessly fascinating to hear their chattering about who's their friend, who's not, and why.

It changes daily.

Yesterday, 7-year-old Katie and her little sister were playing a game with stuffed animals. They didn't give their charges names, but constantly referred to each other as "BFF." In today's language, that means "best friend forever," for those of you who aren't quite up on this new teen-tech lingo created to lend brevity to text messages, e-mail, written, and, apparently, even verbal communication.

Truth is, today's teens haven't invented their own language. They're just making better use for what we thought were our own secret codes when we were young. But, I don't mind my kids thinking I have no clue what they're talking about. Just makes it easier for me to totally get the 411 about their lives without THEM knowing it.

This is going to be fun.

I get to hear who Katie's BFF is. The term is basically bestowed on the person who eats with her at lunch or who concedes to follow her rules at recess.

Six-year-old Nikki has broader parameters. Everyone is her friend, but she's just now learning the special and unique position a BFF fills. From what I can determine, their use of language is a little flawed. It should be a "BFFN" or "BFFT" or "BFTICMM." You know, "best friend for now," "best friend today" or "best friend till I change my mind."

But, it makes them feel special and a little more socially advanced to be able to rank the people they know into categories.

While I'm thrilled about their ability to more clearly identify their social relationships, I'm really not happy about the transition from "I love EVERYBODY!" to "My love now comes with qualifications."

Is that the step we take to lose our basic humanity? Is that where we begin to judge people based on their background, economic status and appearance?

Watching that happen and being virtually powerless to stop it evokes disappointment and sadness. I will do everything I can to limit the categories they create, but I'm discovering there are outside influences stronger than I that I will have to battle every day.

My salvation (for now) is to know that, while Nikki may be on the cusp, she's not quite there yet.

She has a friend at school who she talks about constantly. When I tease her about whether he's her best friend or if she likes him or if she likes, likes him, she gives me a strange look.

"He's my friend," she says firmly and maybe with a touch of censure.

It's just that simple.

Lesson learned on my part.

So now when I talk to her, I don't press her for distinction (shame on me for considering it anyway), I pay more attention to her words and the quality of their relationship.

"I got one sticker. Hunter (sorry, Hunter's mom) got two," she said with absolutely no jealousy or judgment. It was just a fact. I tried to really sense a touch of pride in her comment, so that I could get a handle on the situation, but she gave nothing away.

Because there was nothing to give.

"Hunter's hands were cold, but mine were warm," she prattled on. "Hunter touched my arm and said, 'Your skin is smoove again.' I told him, 'It will always be smoove, I think.'

"Hunter really, really, really, really likes me. He likes to hold my hand and likes the back of my hair when it's smoove (really, the word for the day). He always stands behind me in line."

And, despite the content, which coming from a 6-year-old should not be alarming, it was clear that Nikki truly meant what she had said.

Hunter is her friend.

And because she hasn't entered that stage of categorizing people, that's exactly what they are.

No pretenses. No coyness. No shyness.

They each see qualities they like and admire in each other, and that's enough.

Robert Fulghum was exactly right. Everything we need to know, we learned in kindergarten.

It's too bad how quickly we forget it all, though.

TTFN.

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