Dear 6th grade,

Here’s the thing. Not only is it hard to be a pre-teen, but a pre-teen who just switched schools in the midst of hormonal gyrations more pronounced than Elvis’s hips? Difficult at best. I don’t normally intervene for my kids. I firmly believe both kids need to navigate the waters of life a little bit even if they only dip their toes in initially. But I remember what it was like to be in sixth grade. Sort of like a wildebeest at a watering hole, it was hard for a newcomer to insert herself into the fold.

But let me tell you why you should want to be friends with my tween daughter even though you don’t know her that well.

She is fiercely loyal.

If you are her friend or a family member, there is nothing she wouldn’t do to make you feel loved. I have seen her comfort a friend who was anxious or sad, and I have witnessed her consoling her little brother when he was upset. She has defended younger kids who were being bullied by older kids on the playground. More than anything, she will show up for you—you’re in a play? She’s there. A band? Absolutely. 

RELATED: Dear Daughters, You Have to Show Up for Your Friends

My daughter is as kind as they come.

At her last school, she was the one to welcome a new student into her group, to make sure she was included no matter what, to ask questions about her new friend so she could better understand how to connect with her/him. In fourth grade, she befriended the woman who cleaned the classrooms and the playground. Every day she learned new phrases in Spanish so she could better communicate with her new friend, and at recess and lunch, she helped her clean because she felt the woman did not have enough assistance. I know she made a difference in Noemi’s life. How, you ask? Because Noemi sent home a long letter detailing all the ways my daughter was her “angel.” 

She is an excellent listener.

Having been a trifle narcissistic myself when I was my daughter’s age, I can appreciate how not self-involved she can be. She will sit and ask questions about my day, ask me what my favorite part was, ask me to tell her stories about my childhood, or ask me to sit with her and tell her stories about my family. What sort of pre-teen does that? And it’s not just me. I have eavesdropped on her while chatting with friends from her old school, and it’s the same. She will ask them to tell her about their days, their fears, their dreams. It’s precociously adorable. 

She won’t share your secrets.

If you tell her something personal, she will keep it close to the vest. One time I overheard her talking to her best friend from her old school about her friend’s crush. I made the blunder of asking my daughter about it and was immediately sworn to secrecy. She was irritated with me for listening to their conversation, but she was extremely staunch about me keeping my mouth shut.

She is creative and playful.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression—my daughter is not all seriousness and doldrums. She has an active imagination, loves to play any sort of game, and if there’s nothing concrete to do, she will invent something. Much to my delight, she kept her brother entertained through the dark days of the pandemic when they couldn’t really go anywhere or play with other children. But the two of them never seemed bored. Messes were made, but happiness ensued.  

RELATED: Dear Daughter, Middle School is Hard But it Won’t Last Forever

I could go on about my daughter. Of course, I think she’s fabulous, but I also recognize a perfect candidate to be your new best friend. And I have had my share of friends who have come and gone depending on the circumstances of my life. My daughter isn’t one of those who will come and go.

Her friendship is genuine and true.

I tell her it only takes one or two friends to get by in this world, but she has come home from school despondent since she started at the new place. No one wants to eat lunch with her, no one wants to answer her curious questions about themselves, no one is giving her the time of day. So, I ask of you, which of the qualities above would you want in a friend? And which of your friends has them all? Give my daughter a chance. You may not just be making a friend to ford through the muddiness of adolescence, but a friend for life.

Thanks for reading.

The mom

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Lindsey Goldstein

I am a mother of two, a physical therapist, and have published essays in The New York Times, Kveller, the Her Stories Project, and The Sunlight Press. 

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