Now this is a holiday that I’ve only really learned to appreciate four years ago when we arrived in Chapel Hill. I still don’t know much about it, apart from what I picked up from the song Sam learned in school that she has been trying desperately to teach me: “The Pilgrims are on their way; from far across the sea. They come into North America so they can be free.”
In any case, I would like to celebrate this year’s thanksgiving by giving thanks to a little girl in our (Sam’s) lives — Elie! It just so happens to be her 3rd birthday today too, making it the perfect day for this too. 🙂
Elie is Sam’s best friend, in every sense of the word a 3-year old best friend could be. They were originally classmates in Kindermusik at the ripe old age of 11 months, and of course as the months passed we got them together more for playgroups at each other’s houses. Eventually they became classmates for a day at the Jewish pre-school (Sam went Mon-Wed-Thurs and Elie went Tues-Thurs-Fri), but it was the one day I knew that Sam looked forward to the most. She would always ask me if Elie was going to be at school, and on the 1 out of the three days a week that I would say yes, she would hurry in much faster and forget to say goodbye to me at the door.
Since then Elie became a constant companion and favorite friend, and the two absolutely love playing together. Helene (Elie’s Mom, my friend, and my source for so many good mommy things around town!) and I marvel at how quick they are to light up when the other one is around, as they both start jumping up and down giggling when they see each other. It came to the point that we would get together and Helene and I would sit and chat in another room and “forget” about them because they play so nicely, a welcome break for us both. Sam and Elie don’t fight over toys, and for the most part, are happy to share things and teach each other games and give each other snacks. Sometimes there are disagreements (They want the same thing at the same time), but they never last long, and it’s always easy to settle. Neither of them will throw a fit if the other one is given the toy first. What’s even more impressive is that when they’re asked to give the other a turn, both will willingly do so after. Not bad for three-year old sharing!
The girls were at camp for a few weeks last summer (Here at home the proper phrase was “Summer Camp with Elie”), and at pick-up time the teachers would tell us that they play together so well, it was like they had a world of their own. It was a nice way of saying they weren’t listening to the teachers, (which could be troublesome if you think about it) but thankfully, everyone was just astonished and amused at their bond. Helene and I would always exchange stories about how much sand they’d have in their hair, or would discover that they’d both come home with scratches (from running in the bushes together). I started making a joke about how we would be the two parents sitting at the principal’s office because our girls were having some mischievous fun together.
Then there’s the secret language that they talk to each other in, and the imaginary friend that they both have. Sometimes Sam would use it on me too, and of course I wouldn’t understand; and later I’d find out that Elie would do the exact same thing to Helene. We would get together and relate what one girl said and the other would say, “I know! She said that to me too!” We’re told by her family that only twins are known to do that.
Sam is always thinking about Elie and asking to do things with her all the time. Even when we’re shopping for things like arts and crafts, Sam will put a two of the same kind of things she likes, because one will be for Elie. When one is sick, the other one is so concerned that they empathize and tell us they have the same illness as well. Today for Elie’s birthday, Sam insisted that we bring some M&M’s when we went over to play, because she wanted to give Elie some as a special treat (M&M’s are Sam’s favorite “prize” for doing something well, and knowing today was Elie’s day, she asked, in toddler terms, if we could make an exception. I found it too sweet to say no!).
It’s also less scary for both girls to be in a new environment when they know the other one is around. Sam as I mentioned is generally shy around new people and faces, but when Elie is there she loses all inhibition and becomes her happy playful self. In fact on the day that Sam brought Elie to ballet with her, it was the first time Sam “danced” in front of an audience of adults. And actually, the reason Sam wanted to be a Pirate for halloween was because she heard Elie was going to be a pirate too! They looked absolutely cute together if you ask me.
The highlight of Sam’s day is playing with Elie, or seeing her after school. No matter how short or long a time they spend together, Sam will always talk about her time with Elie first when you ask her about her day. As someone that watches these encounters from the sidelines I’d have to say I love the way Elie makes Sam so happy all the time, and how strong their bond is at such a young age. The nice part about all of this, is that because the girls are such good friends, our two families have gotten to become really great friends too, and have in a way become our family away from home. 🙂
Happy Happy Birthday, sweet Elie! We are thankful for you, your family, and all the happy and exciting times you have brought into our lives. Here’s to many more years of friendship ahead!