This story submitted by Esther, who has gone on to have less delicate friendships.
In fourth grade, there was a girl I had a weird friendship with.She did all the “BFF” stuff that I didn’t think about. Not that I didn’t like it, or had anything against it. But she attached a lot of importance to it, while I flitted from friend to friend and didn’t think that made me any less her friend.
One day I spent lunchtime talking and laughing with both her and another girl. Well, I laughed with the other girl. With BFF, I barely talked because she was giving me the cold shoulder. I didn’t know why, but I was used to it, and I was in fourth grade, so I’m sure I didn’t think too long or hard about it.
After lunch, our English teacher led us back to our classroom. I attempted to chat with BFF again on the way, but she wouldn’t even look at me, and she moved to the head of the line, away from me. She was looking very sad and a little sniffly. She stayed that way all afternoon.
About a half hour into afternoon sessions — I think we were doing group work — my teacher called me out of class. We stood in the doorway of the classroom, door slightly ajar so she could keep an eye on the rest of the class, and said “Something you did during lunch is still affecting a girl in this class.”
My happy, carefree, relaxed stance went rigid. I had no idea what she meant. Honestly, I can still remember the heart-in-throat feeling. Me, of all people, who hated making anyone feel bad…
I told her I didn’t know what she meant. I hadn’t even noticed her taking BFF out of the classroom earlier because she was still upset. But she gave me no hints, not even the name of the person who I had affected so badly.
“Stand here until you remember what you did,” teacher said, and went back into the classroom.
I was on the verge of tears. I had no idea what I’d done, or to whom. But there I stayed, out in the hall, while other classes (including my older sister’s) passed by.
Eventually, the teacher came back outside, asked me if I remembered (I didn’t), and then gave up and told me. BFF said I’d been ignoring her during lunch, which made her feel bad. She made me apologize directly.
I apologized. But that was the end of our friendship. Her sullen responses to my friendships with other girls — that I was used to. What I couldn’t get over was those moments of terror thinking I had hurt another person so badly that it warranted pulling me out of class and making me stand in the hallway.