Preschoolers make the best philosophers, especially when they surprise us by simplifying something in a truly profound way.
Take, for example, little Emi, who managed to sum up the meaning of friendship perfectly at just 3 years old.
Katy-Robin Garton was riding Emi home on her bike during her first week of preschool when they started talking about Emi’s day. Garton is a documentary filmmaker in Missoula, Montana, and she had a GoPro attached to the bike for something else she was filming. She also had Emi mic’d up because she likes to be able to hear her talking while they ride together.
“I’ve always had really lovely conversations with the kids on the ride home on the bike or in the car,” Garton tells Upworthy. She has learned through interviewing people for documentaries that how you ask questions makes all the difference. Rather than asking her kids “How was your day?” or “What did you do today?” she asks them specific questions to trigger their memories about the day, which helps to get them to open up.
On this ride, Garton asked Emi who she had sat next to at her table at school that day. That got Emi talking about her friend Frankie, and the conversation evolved into a beautiful testimony of friendship that people of all ages can appreciate.
Garton asked Emi what she loves about Frankie, and Emi said she was funny, which led to a revelation about how friends can bring out our funny sides.
“When she laughs, that makes me that I’m funny,” said Emi. “When she puts some of her funniness into myness, she makes me even funnier, and she still has that funniness.” Maybe a 3-year-old way of saying it, but it makes perfect sense.
Then she hit at the heart of what friendship is as she described how Frankie makes her feel better when she’s not OK.
“When I get super scared and new teachers are with me, I just run over to Frankie. And I’m still crying, and then she laughs, and then I laugh, and then we just get better and better and better and better.
“She’s my best friend in the whole entire world. I wish she could be with us because she is the special-est.”
So. Darn. Sweet. And honestly, so profound in such a simple way. Friends are the people we can run to when we’re upset and who help us feel better just by being themselves.
Garton is raising three young children—two 3-year-olds and a 6-year-old—and she’s conscientious about talking through feelings with her kids. However, Emi’s deep thoughts on this bike ride still took her by surprise.
“I hadn’t talked to her about how friends make us feel,” says Garton. “I mean maybe I did over time, because we’re always having mindful conscious conversations—we try to—with our kids about ‘How does someone make you feel? Do you like being around them?’ Those kinds of thoughts. But she’s kind of put it together on her own.”
Garton says the response to her and Emi’s conversation made it clear that Emi’s musings on her friendship with Frankie are what we all need to hear.
“We forget to check in, like, ‘What do I need in a friendship? How should a friendship make me feel?’ as adults, and here was my 3-year-old talking about it in such a simple way,” says Garton. “And the response that I saw from people was so heartwarming, just thousands of people tagging their besties, saying ‘You’re my Frankie!’ It was just beautiful. Like it wasn’t just for parents, it was for everyone.”
If you have a Frankie in your life, be sure to let them know they’re the special-est. For more of Emi’s adorable wisdom, follow @katyrobinbird on Instagram.