So, I have a thirteen year old son and anyone who has children will tell you that from about the age of two their favorite companion is their "best friend". If they are lucky they will have the same one for a long while. However, in real life things are ever changing and chances are your child will have about 10-15 best friends before high school. Or such is the case with my child. He's very social. His friends bring him great delight, but can also break his day if something goes south. He's in the eighth grade and is up to roughly about three best friends at this present point in time.
I too am social, although when I was younger, I only kept one best friend at a time. It was ever so important to choose just the right individual, but mostly, they just had to really like me and enjoy doing all the things that I deemed cool. As I've grown older the criteria for choosing the proper comrades has become even more steep as peoples' minds and behaviors are much more shifty compared to the simple days of eighth grade homeroom. Also, I can handle more than one best friend, since I plan to have them all for life.
This brings me to the question...How do you know when someone has crossed the threshold from acquaintance to friend and then from the Friendly Lane to BestieVille? Well, in my opinion, the chemistry has to be off the charts from the very beginning. If anything goes wrong I'm out. I mean like off colored jokes to me or weird behavior that I'm not down with, I'm throwing you the peace sign and a kind but silent good night.
I'll give you an example. When I met one of my good friends, Divine (I wasn't formally introduced right away) I courted her in my head for a while. I saw her at a kiddie party. Alas, she has no children as yet, but she was there looking fabulous and being supportive. She walked in and she was utter perfection; chocolate like me and hair blowing in the gentle breeze. I thought-whispered, "I must be friends with her." I got lucky and in the course of about six months we were introduced by my other good girlfriend, Tashanna at brunch. Divine is funny and clever with perfect teeth. We became one, well one of five and now we all co-exist as a group of friends that I dubbed as The Panel. I hope that didn't sound superficial. Unlike what it does sound like, there was more to this friendship than just looks. There were plenty of good conversations and many, many times that we had all been there for each other. We don't always agree, but we have a general respect for each other as chosen sisters. I'm a firm believer that friendships have to be nursed like an actual relationship, because sometimes they last longer than a marriage or any dating experience. They comfort us in a more important way at all the right times.
See, with children, they are usually open and accepting of other children. They stand up for each other at the drop of a dime. No one is pushing Sarah around while Beth is at the park! If one cries, the other one usually does too. If one is happy, they cheer the other up. They want to spend quality time with each other and they want to make the best of it. If one is misbehaving or saying mean things to the other or someone that they care about, a child will tell you to cut that shit out (in not so many words). For bad behavior will promptly be followed by a hearty, "I'm not your friend." Words like that makes no one feel good. Ever.
Those seem like very simple basics to follow. That's friendship to me in a nut shell. I want to be open, accepted, I want someone to fight for me (if necessary). I must be happy and I want a decent amount of quality time to build a stronger bond with a friend.
Finally, the difference between a friend and a best friend for me, is that I have to trust you with my child. I have to not feel weird about you not seeing me at my best and knowing that you're alright with that and won't take pictures of me . I would sit with a best friend in the hospital while they are ill or getting ready to give birth. I would wake in the middle of the night and pick you up from where ever you needed me to, because I care about your well being. I would join a search party if you were lost and call your name until I had no more voice. That's the difference. It's the balance between like and love. I like friends. I love and protect the best of them. :)