I very recently lost my pen pal of decades. She was going to turn 100 years old in October and I was hoping to fly to California to be there for that. I had been out to visit her once before and she was the godmother of my former spouse. We wrote back and forth to each other faithfully and I have framed her last note card to me.
I have another dear friend who is going to be 95. I have friends of many different ages, both younger and older. Because if all my friends had to be my age of 57, I would have maybe 1 or 2.
This photo was taken at a mixed-age group I had on Thursdays. Caught up in this wonderful conversation are kids who are 21, 19, 15, and 9. And Penny the dog, who is 11.
My programs are a stretch of ages and grades on purpose. During the school year, we have a two or three-grade difference. During the summer, we stretch from 5-14, allowing space for the kids to divvy themselves up by age, interest, or activities. It works well for older kids who are young at heart, younger kids who would love to play with an older social buddy who knows a lot about their interests, and kids who have been searching for an accepting community.
I remember once I had a 7-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl who bonded and became instant buddies. Certainly, when children are young, there is a greater concern for age-spread in friendships. I suggested to the younger girl’s mom that she hire the older girl as a mom’s helper. That way, they could share friendship and connection with the mom being around to supervise.
I frequently talk to children about the fact that sometimes good friends are not going to be your classmates at school. They are somewhere out in the greater world, and you can embark on a treasure hunt to find them. Many kids find them here.