My Son Copes with His Best Friend's Big Move

Last week, my three-and-a-half-year-old and I were drawing a picture together. “Who’s this for?” I asked him as we added a few more stickers (you can never have enough stickers). “It’s for Emily,” he said matter-of-factly, “because I miss her.”

His answer made me catch my breath. For those readers who don’t know, Emily is my son’s best friend at his preschool. They were in the school’s infant room together, and they’ve been best buds all this time, moving from class to class together. My son loves Emily, and has always been extremely protective of her. But two weeks ago, Emily moved away. Far away – to Israel. And I don’t think my son can even fathom what it all means.

“Can we send this to her?” he said, scribbling away at the picture. “Sure,” I said, smoothing his wayward hair away out of his eyes. “Then can we go to her new house?” he asked, while smoothing his hair right back where it was. “Well, honey, I’m sorry, but we’re not going to be able to go to Emily’s new house. It’s too far away, sweetie.”

Even as I told him this, I knew that he wouldn’t understand. He took the news that she was moving pretty well, but I think it’s because she’s been gone long periods of time before, to visit her relatives in Israel. Of course, it’s too hard for him to understand that this time, she’s not coming back.

A couple of days later, we were all at the dinner table, and my husband asked my son, “So, who did you play with today? Who’s your new best friend, now that Emily got a new house?” My son looked him straight in the eye and said seriously, “I’m not going to have another best friend. Emily’s my only one.”

I swear, as dramatic as it might seem, this brought a tear to my eye. Poor thing. He really misses her. I tried to think about how I could help him. I actually remember when my first and best childhood friend moved away. Her name was Stephanie, and she was the daughter of one of my mother’s best friends, and they lived right across the street from me. Stephanie and I played Barbies together, did paper dolls together and even tried to run away together one time. When she moved to Oklahoma, I was devastated. I remember one night when I was so sad and lonely, and my mom held me, and I distinctly remember her saying, “I know, honey, I’m sad too.” And in that moment, I knew she understood, and I was comforted.

So I’ll try to let my son know that I understand. I know it’s hard when friends move away. Even as adults, it’s not easy. But eventually, with time, it gets better. And of course, I’ll help my son understand that he’ll make new friends. Even though I know that for him, it will be a while before any of them can hold a candle to Emily.


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