I was taking Meri to nursery in the morning.
“I’m going to play with Olivia today,” she said. “Olivia is my best friend.”
“That’s good. I’m sure you’ll have fun.” I said.
Four hours later, having collected Meri from nursery, we were walking home.
“Did you have a nice time at nursery?” I asked.
“I played with Ayisha,” she replied, “Ayisha’s my best friend.”
I smirked to myself. The capricious, fickle nature of little girls is legendary.
The next day, we were on our way to a stately home and gardens to give the kids a run around. In the playground there Meri was waiting in queue with other children to have a go on a small zip wire. Clare and I watched as she started chatting about the colour of the flowers on her dress to the slightly older little girl standing in front of her. They both had a go on the zip wire and then ran off together happily and excitedly. They played together for another ten minutes before we called Meri over the café to have her lunch.
“Who was that you were playing with?” I asked.
“She’s my new best friend,” said Meri happily with a big smile on her face.
“What is her name?”
“I don’t know. She’s my new best friend,” reiterated Meri.
We moved on from the café and made our way into the extensive grounds. As we came down a steep slope in the lawn behind the grand house Arun lost his unsteady footing and took a big tumble. He lay on the floor, a little stunned and confused, looking bewildered but stoically not crying. Clare and I turned and took steps towards him but Meri was quicker than all of us.
She ran to where her big brother lay, and slowly, tenderly picked him up. She held his hand and led him across to some steps and sat him down on them. She sat down next to him, took his head in her hands and gave him a big hug whilst telling him, “It’s OK Arun. Don’t worry.”
Clare and I looked at one another. Arun, because of his cerebral palsy and autism, doesn’t really make friends his own age.
“She may have a new best friend every five minutes but I think we know who his best friend is always going to be,” Clare said to me.
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