I had a dream. I dreamed a story.
The family were living in Norway, a foreign country. Father had a one-year transfer to a veterinary clinic as a small animal specialist, while Mother and daughter Anna settled into their new home amongst the spruce trees, which was a short drive to the nearest town and school. The scenery was breathtaking but Anna was finding it difficult to settle into school life. Her language skills were hesitant and although she tried hard to converse she found it difficult to make friends. Many days she came home from school unhappy.
One day her mother noticed the sadness in Anna's eyes, and asked what was the problem. Anna, eyes downcast, murmured she was OK. Mother knew her daughter better than that. Gently, settling her on her knee she asked again what the problem was. Anna's tale came out haltingly with sniffling and uncertainty.
Slowly she managed to tell her mother that she didn't have any friends … that the children laughed at her because her Norwegian was not fluent. Mother, a wise lady, asked Anna if there was anything she could do better than the other children. Anna's eyes brightened ... she could crochet and none of the other children had mastered that craft.
Mother laughed gently, soothed Anna's sadness away with a biscuit and a drink. Next day, when Anna was at school Mother drove to the shopping centre and bought up several balls of wool and some crochet hooks. She then designed some invitations, featuring crochet as the theme, and gave them to Anna to give out to some of the children at school. Two days later a troop of eager children appeared at the door. Mother who had sandwiches, small cakes and milk shakes ready, introduced herself.
She sat the children down; let them choose which colours of wool they wanted, and handed out crochet hooks before demonstrating how to make a square. The children, quiet at first, slowly picked up the basics and by teatime they had mastered the art of simple crochet.
Anna was able to go round each child and help out with the harder parts such as turning a corner, and soon all were laughing and chattering as though they had known each other for years. Next day at school Anna had many friends, and the crochet lessons continued for several Thursday afternoons until everyone was proficient.
Another Mum decided to show the group how to do origami and these simple little craft afternoons became a wonderful way for children's friendships to develop.
One day, many months later, when Anna was telling her mother about the many friends she had, her Mother said, "Anna, do you remember when you hated school because you had no friends?"
Anna frowned. It seemed such a long time ago. "Yes," she replied, that was ages ago."
"It was," agreed her mother. "But the thing is, it wasn't that you never had any friends, it was just you hadn't yet met them. Life is like that. We go to new places, we know no-one, and so we have to look for a common meeting place."