The first time I saw Lulu’s friend, Amalie, she had her arms around Lulu. They were three years old. Neither of them wanted to be in their nursery class. Apparently, they had been comforting each other for hours.
Lulu cried solid every day. Until we took her out and put her back in a year later. Whether it was right or wrong thing to do, we could do it. So we did. Sometimes choices come down to that. As Amalie’s mother, Sarah says it now, you guys were so jammy. Amalie would have loved to be able to do that.
But come back we did. Lulu and Amalie were in class together for six years before we left on Quest. They had some drama. All the birthday parties, where Am favoured wearing Toy Story costumes and Lulu came dressed in a close approximation of pyjamas. Now that she’s back at school with mostly the same kids, they still remind her of her pyjama look. Surely this is fuelling her desire to suddenly be kitted out in the local sports store where every teenager with any self-respect around here gets their garb.
Lulu broke her arm with Amalie when they were six-years-old. Lu’s first official play date didn’t end too playfully. Two lots of surgery later, the insertion and removal of metal pins and a scar now that looks like a healthy shark bite – another memory to carry through their friendship.
Still, friendships go up and down – especially at this age. Lulu has had different friends over the last few years. Amalie has done her own thing too. To be honest, I’ve been surprised watching them reconnect. By going back to school and meeting new people, I didn’t expect Lulu to end up back at the beginning. I wonder if these two still have their arms around each other, holding on to the end of the school day.
Yesterday, they both had a day of firsts. Let’s start with Amalie. Amalie has ambivalence towards public transport. She lives in the deep countryside and always gets lifts. At the same time she’s adventurous. In our area, kids make friends with kids from other schools and other towns. It’s not uncommon for them to go to said-towns, visit and meet each other in person. Yesterday Amalie finally took the bus to do such a thing. Then she missed the bus back, but managed to take another bus. Finally, not to be daunted. she took a train to our house.
Lulu on the other hand, is done with the whole adventure thing. We’ve made her take so many buses, boats and so many trains. She’s even done Spanish class on a plane. She doesn’t feel the need to roam through our county. She was in need of a new challenge though. Jack went down to the end of our village. There’s a busy café run by his old friend. He asked if they had any work opportunities. And they did. They were more than happy to try Lulu out.
So yesterday, on the eve of Lulu’s 14th birthday – the age at which you can legally start working in the UK – Lu went to her first work trial. We held our breath for four hours. I sent Jack to pick her up.
‘I’m scared,’ he said.
Ten minutes later they returned. Lulu crawled up into her bunk and lay down speechless. Oh. Ok.
‘How was it?’ I whispered to Jack.
He smiled. ‘They said she was really good. Confident and independent and chatty.’
I looked back towards her. ‘Really?’
‘Yeah. They said they get loads of 14-year-olds who can barely talk. Lu was great. They said she can have five shifts during the half-term.’
Wow. At that moment, I did the first thing I could think of doing. I called my mother. Wow.
‘Look at her,’ Jack said afterwards, ‘She’ll be too knackered to do anything else now.’
Triumphant smile. Sneaky high-five.
That night, after Lulu and Am’s day of firsts which included watching countless horror movies together, the two friends went to sleep.