The day has come...sending off a child's best friend

It's happening: our 7-year-old's best friend is leaving Thailand.

Because we don't move too closely within the expat circle and my friends with kids are all either Thai or expected long-term stayers, I never really expected this to truly happen. But it has.

I'll certainly miss the mom, who was my colleague first before becoming 'my daughter's best friend's mom', but I'm used to this, saying goodbye and letting go. It comes with my former field of work and with being an expat, and, what with my own moving around, I've been trained on it since childhood.

But this time, it's different: I find myself feeling the upcoming loss on behalf of my daughter, thinking even about the longer-term implications that probably go way beyond Tigerlily's straightforward sadness of saying goodbye to a dear friend.

This friendly, outgoing, lovely 6-year-old—I'll call her 'Jasmine'—was my daughter's first friend at kindergarten, first non-family-member friend and only neighbourhood friend.

Jasmine lived just a 10-minute walk away. That meant we could casually invite each other over to play, and after Tigerlily graduated from kindergarten ahead of Jasmine, they continued to see each other every Saturday for their ballet class at the local mall.

This neighbourhood friend thing—one doesn't take them for granted in Bangkok, especially when you don't live anywhere near most expats.

Tigerlily is now at the Japanese school, where the vast majority of kids are bussed in from the Sukhumvit area, which is, on an average day, a 40-min car ride from our place. I hardly have a chance to meet other parents in my kids' classes; every April the classes are shuffled so that your child ends up with 30-or-so children they've never met before; and most expat Japanese families stay in Bangkok just three years anyway, making it challenging to form lasting friendships.

Outside of school hours, our kids play at home as there aren't any nice parks close by, no playgrounds where they might mingle with other local kids.

To top it off, I'm not the type of person who actively seeks to meet new people—I wish I were sometimes!—and even though we've invited Tigerlily's Japanese school friends over before, organizing it was rather a production and a one-time thing that I don't feel like doing very often.

Jasmine was the closest thing that Tigerlily had to what I considered a 'normal' childhood friend: someone who lives close by, someone she's known almost all her life, someone who is a regular part of our family's life.

I know very well that childhood friends change, they don't stay the same forever, no matter the circumstance. But here, it will be hard to find anyone to fulfill the category of 'neighbourhood friend' (although we thankfully have a few lovely 'almost in the neighbourhood' friends), much less fill up the empty space that was uniquely Jasmine's.

Thank you Jasmine and mom for being such lovely friends! It was so much fun to have you in our lives in our little corner of town ♡♡ We wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing you again!


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