I think my friends are among the absolute best in the world. They are amazing people, generous, friendly, open and warm. I often marvel at the way we all met through our kids. It was really one special kindergarten year, with one special teacher (now also a close friend) that brought most of us together and changed my social life completely. It is incredible how kids can open doors for you like that. If it had not been for them, I am certain I would never have met these people, who are now some of my nearest and dearest. We are all originally from completely different parts of the world and our cultural backgrounds vary enormously.
As we were preparing to leave Canada for the next 9 or 10 months, our lovely friends hosted several dinners and get togethers for Mike and I. We got absolutely spoiled by everyone, and loved every minute of it. Although I knew this already, it really crystallized in my mind how close our group is, and how wonderful it is that everyone looks out for one another, cares and appreciates each other.
So why am I bringing all this up? Not just because I miss my friends - which I do. But being away from my usually fairly hectic social life, I have had a lot more time to read. Currently, I am reading a very interesting book about a teenage boy who grows up in a tolerant Muslim family in London, UK, only to become a fervent "Islamist" fundamentalist. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more riveting. Eventually, the author rejects the radical teachings and returns to what he terms "a normal life".
What fascinates me about this book is how the author becomes interested in fundamentalism in the first place. He describes himself as being an "outcast" or a "misfit" in his school, as a bit of a nerd or geek, and definitely not in the cool crowd. He is also the victim of some racism growing up as an Asian boy in London. It hurts to read about his loneliness and desire to fit in with everyone else.
His family is a very pious Muslim family, but it is also very private in its religious beliefs, and his parents see a big difference between religion and public government. Which of course is directly opposed to what fundamentalism holds.
It is shocking to read just how lost to his parents this boy became at a very young age. This was not a boy whose family did not care and was not involved with him. On the contrary, his family was highly committed and cared strongly about what he did and did not do. And despite this, he was still able to slip through the fingers of his parents and into a whole other belief system, much to their anguish. All to find a place where he was respected by his peers.
It is a little scary to think that as our children grow just a little older, they may start to value the opinions of their peers much more than ours - their parents'. You hope that you have done a good job, that they will be able to distinguish right from wrong, but as we all know, the right decision is not always the easy one, or the popular one.
Which brings me back to my friends again... my wonderfully positive and supportive friends. As we prepare for our first visitors from Canada to arrive in a couple of days, I can only hope that my sons will be lucky enough to have friends like these in their lives.
Hugs and kisses to all of you xox