little boy friendships - Mind the Baby

Litte boy friendships: an observation not an informed comment

I’ve always wondered about the formation of friendships – how they come about, why we make friends with certain people, and where gender comes in to it. Do we naturally gravitate towards same-sex friendships in childhood and adulthood? Or do we take people at face value for who they are as individuals and what we have in common, regardless of gender?

A psychologist is probably reading this scoffing and shouting RTFM at their screen but I’m only in a ponderment place, rather than a “care enough to read a text book” place.

I’ve observed some interesting things with the small boy in the last few months. Apparently he has a gang of boy buddies at crèche. I have been sceptical as to how real a construct this really is. Like, there’s 14 of them in the montie class and they’re not all there at the same time, so surely there are limited opportunities to carve out a little exclusive posse. Also, usually when I pick him up in the evening, it’s only him and the girls left and they seem to be getting on just fine. I also understand they like to pin him down and kiss him. As his mother, I can confirm that I understand the desire to do this to him. He even got married there a few weeks ago, I’m told. So he’s grand with the girls.

But a couple of his buddy buddies have been missing for the past couple of weeks for holidays and what have you. And he genuinely really misses them. He got upset one morning going in when he looked around the room and none of the boys were there, as if the thought of another day with only female company was just a little too much. Often at bedtime when we’re all snuggled up, he’ll say “I miss Daniel*” or “I miss Noah*” in a really sad voice. I didn’t expect that. I don’t know why, to be honest. He’s four, like! Why wouldn’t he miss his friends?

I don’t really remember any of my pre-school friendships with boys. I remember the stories about a boy called Tony who lived up the road and some doctor’s son in playschool, but I don’t actually remember hanging out with them. All my long term memories are from the single sex primary school I attended, so it wasn’t like I got to choose the gender of my friends.

What role are these friendships playing in his life for him right now, I wonder? I’m presuming it’s something more complex than the obvious physical rough n tumble that boys bring to the party. Or is it? Do you know? What do you co-educated people think?

Names have been changed to protect the identity of people who are on holidays, unlike our good selves. 😉

7 thoughts on “Litte boy friendships: an observation not an informed comment”

  1. I too find little-kid friendships fascinating – I remember as early as age two watching my daughter gravitate with certainty towards certain kids in her class while disdaining others, while as far as I was concerned they were all just babies. I’ve also seen her become besties a year later with someone who was just an also-ran for a long time, so it’s not always the instant connection and sometimes more about the long game.
    My son, from where I see it, tends to be friends with anyone who’ll have him – but it’s true that his girl friendships and his boy friendships fulfill different roles, and the boy ones are a lot more about physical play – wrestling, swordfighting, soccer playing. But then there’s the individual to take into account too, which is more than just their sex, of course. A friendship is a special thing, no matter what. Your son is lucky he has the gift of making friends already.

  2. I’ve watched this a lot with my three kids. I have to say that I love the fact my really boyish boy (the 5 yo) has a best friend who is a girl. They have been friends since birth. All his other buddies are boys but there is a beautiful relationship between himself and his little lady friend.

  3. I am fascinated with my daughter (4.5yrs) and her budding friendships. It’s just so endearing to watch. Why this girl? why that boy? Why not this one who seems so well matched? Have you watched “The secret lives of four year olds on 4od? They placed cameras all over a preschool and followed the interactions of kids over a few weeks. Sign up online and watch it. It may not give you any answers but omigod it will warm our heart to the core.

What do you think?