It's generally regarded as a fact of childhood that most kids will have a best friend.

It's generally regarded as a fact of childhood that most kids will have a best friend.

They will also have invisible friends. And imaginary friends, some talking animals, a superhero alter ego and at least one fictitious sidekick.

They will also have several other best friends, several other non-best friends, some regular friends, passing acquaintances, people they sit next to because their last names start with the same letter, bus kids, basic deskmates, nondescript locker neighbors and at least one arch-nemesis.

I had all of these, especially the latter: His name was Chuck, he thought he was smarter than me and we faced off regularly in things like spelling bees, all of which I won because when it came to the primal ferocity of the fourth-grade spelling bee, I was not to be jacked around with.

But as I understood it, that's what school was for, learning about "The Tempest" and the quadratic equation and covalent bonding and other things that you literally cannot go a day without referencing.

But, also, it’s stumbling around and attempting to carve out some social structure that you will go on to one day to apply to your adult life, assuming you don't grow up to be someone who regularly comments on websites.

Yet this is apparently not what school is for in Britain, because as everyone knows school in Britain is about one thing only: defeating Lord Voldemort.

Indeed, I feel like it should include the word "fortnight" in a story that almost certainly contains layers of subtlety and is born from psychological research but has been boiled down to "KIDS NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE BEST FRIENDS" in America, where most news is delivered in four-word increments adjacent to articles about actors who resemble cats, schools in parts of England have banned kids from having best friends.

This is news to me for a number of reasons, primarily that I was already under the impression this policy was apparently in effect in Indiana in the mid-1980s.

But according to the Sun newspaper, the policy has been employed in schools in Kingston, South West London, Surrey, South Farthington, Little Whirlingdishes, Kate Middleton West and Downton Abbey - OK obviously most of those are made up, but have you ever tried to come up with fake British names for a list joke?

"They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend," said educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni to the Sun newspaper in Britain, or they possibly stole it out of a private voicemail she was leaving for a colleague, whichever. "But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they're learning to deal with it."

I am generally pretty progressive when it comes to most educational topics, especially as they pertain to "teacher pay scales" or "teaching evolution" or "having like everyone carry guns in there for some reason," but I have to confess to getting all libertarian when I think of someone monitoring my son's playground activities for excessive companionship.

Just step back and let the kids play as they'll play, at least until it's time for the Voldemort battle.

Jeff Vrabel  can be reached at and followed at