Wednesday, April 21, 2010
IS THERE SOMETHING IN MY TEETH?
My three year old tells me, depending on his mood, that either I am “not his best friend” or I am. Mostly I’m not. My witty comeback to this? “That’s good Jack, because I’m not here to be your best friend, I’m here to be your MOTHER!” Of course he had already walked off by the time I'm at “good”, but at least I am giving a mature and well thought out response. It's parenting 101 really.
I’ve been thinking about friends lately. A lot. The ones I have, the ones I would like, the ones I know for sure I don’t. Because, even though we grow older, our need to have a friend, a group, a place we belong, doesn’t ease or abate.
Maddison, aged 10 going on 35 comes home every other day, telling me she’s no longer friends with Emma, or Kristine or Rachel or whoever the girl was that didn’t talk to her enough that day or didn’t include her in a conversation about the latest Year 6 scandal. And, I’m sure she’s not always the innocent, hard done by party. Let’s just say, if she’s on the "in" side of the “in crowd” I hear no complaints. Primary school has always been a bitchy battlefield. The players change, the game doesn’t.
I have three best friends. Bonnie, Bronwyn and Jodi. Sorry if that sounds like I’m in grade 3, but we still introduce ourselves to new people that way. We have known each other for most of our lives. I’d like to romanticise that we were constantly best friends, but for a lot of that time, we were merely just classmates. But after school, I reckon you start to pick your people, not learn to put up with them.
I define my best friends as the people I can tell ANYTHING to. I mean anything. They know all my bad stories and they were usually involved in most of my best. I know I could ring all three at any one time and say “Hey, yeah I know it’s 2am, but I’m blind, I’ve only got one shoe on and I don’t know where I am, come get me??” and they would. No questions, no judgement. I know I can flash my teeth and ask if there is something hideous lodged in there or they will give me an inconspicuous heads up, if I have an embarrassing situation happening with my nostrils. We know we can go a few weeks sometimes and not talk and it’s all good. It doesn’t mean we’ve got the shits, it just means we’re busy.
I guess what got me thinking at all about friendships was a party I went to the other night. The host of the party was desperate to introduce me to one particular person because she wanted us to “be friends”. She was adamant we were very similar and wanted us to be great friends. It was kind of like a blind date but without the added bonus of potential meaningless sex. So we were introduced and you know what, she was lovely. Smart, funny, pretty and we got on like a house on fire. Mind you, it was dark, we were drinking like it was an open bar and it was the first night I had been let loose sans kids in months.
So the next bit was kind of awkward. It felt like the day after you got a guys number at a nightclub. Who calls first? I mean, do we need to call, maybe I should just facebook her? But what if she rejects me? Loserville. Who wants to be the one who looks like a stalker? OH God, I am 16 again.
There are also two wonderful mums’ I’ve met through kindy. We have talked at functions and kids parties and well, we just click. But it’s like there is an invisible shield between us getting on and actually going that extra step and setting up a one on one “date”. For a start, we are all working mums (one a high school teacher and the other a journo) and it’s hard enough getting time to pee in peace, let alone organise unadulterated “new friend” time sipping vino and talking shit. But part of me desperately wants to hang out more. These are the times where I wish I just had no shame and could instigate things. But then, that just wouldn’t be me.
I've just met the lovely J, who's story you can read here http://www.akicktotheneck.com/ . J has been dealt a shit hand but isn't it letting it beat her. I used to think the only people who meet in real life off the internet were either perves or desperadoes. Not so. So we had a coffee, she inadvertently started tried to smother my son (not really) and Sam took a shine to her complete with handhold.
I reckon when I hit about 30 I just had an epiphany. Negative, hard to deal with “friends” just weren’t going to get my valuable time anymore. Why would I spend time with someone who puts me down or is constantly making me feel terrible when I don’t get enough time to spend time with the people I really want to? I believe this is an age and maturity issue. That’s why it feels like it’s worse than breaking up with a well meaning, yet useless boyfriend when it happens.
Of course Gen Y’ers and God, I don’t even know what my 10yo daughters generation is called, are a different kettle of fish. They have the social mediums of texting and facebook to keep in contact with, as soon as they go home each day. In our day (yes I am a Nanna); we lost touch with people the day after we graduated. So the dynamics will change and I guess the kids of today will always have a larger circle of friends and acquaintances.
I hope they get the best friend experience though. It’s pretty priceless.