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What about your friends?

Posted in thatchik30

Over the past few months I have had some rather difficult conversations with my youngest child regarding friendships. He had expressed disappointment that he doesn’t have many close friends to hang out with. Assuming my kid isn’t an asshole to other people his age, I know there are some possible reasons he doesn’t have close friends. For starters, he and his brothers have mostly attended schools out of the neighborhood, which can sometimes make it difficult to schedule play dates. Then, within the neighborhood, there are not many children his age. Well, there is one kid down the street but I forbade my kids from playing with him once he proved himself to be a troublemaker. He was the worst kind of troublemaker, the kind whose mother believed her son was always right and everyone else was out to get him. Yeah, no. Keep that sort of crazy at your house.
I have tried to explain to my kid that he should be patient and that friends will come. When? I do not know but I do know that things will get better. This is not terribly reassuring to him but I am not sure what else to say or do. Though I try to share my experiences with him, I do not share everything. For instance, learning a painful lesson in middle school that while having friends of a different race during the school day was permissible, the parents of those same classmates forbade them from socializing with me outside of that school. My parents, on the other hand, tried to comfort me and said they understood but that was just the way things were. Fortunately for me, I had (have) a large family with many cousins. I had a built-in support network back home that my children simply do not have here and I regret that for them. I always had family to lean on when “the world” dealt those hurtful moments.
When telling my son about my experiences with gaining and keeping friends, I have tried to explain that at his age, many friends, more like acquaintances, will come and go. To this day, I only have one close friend from high school. Though we may see each other often or even on the telephone frequently, I know she is always there. She was here for the birth of each of my sons and I was there for her marriage to a wonderful man. In high school, I had several close friends but this one is the only one who has stood by me in good times and bad since then.
I have shared with my son that I did not meet my other best friend until college. Of course, college seems like a lifetime away to him. Anyway, it is short of amazing that this friend and I bonded because we disagreed on a number of topics, some that others would consider deal-breakers. In retrospect, maybe we clicked because we pushed each other’s buttons and (respectfully) challenged each other. I think she was the first person that was ALWAYS COMPLETELY honest with me. She is the person I call on when I need an honest opinion or assessment of a situation and, likewise, she calls me. We play devil’s advocate for one another and one of our running jokes is that “no yes-women need apply.” We are not friends, no more like sisters, because we always agree with one other. No, we are sisters because we do not let the other one get away with utter non-sense.
I have many good friends and I am grateful for them, too. I genuinely enjoy their company and I feel that I can learn from them. I have always felt that it is important to surround myself with people that can teach me things and whose experiences can enlighten me. These friendships did not develop overnight, but as I am trying desperately to teach my son, they eventually will come and when they do, they are to be cherished.
Here’s to hoping my son can be patient and that best friend will come along.

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  1. Anonymous

    Interesting post. Being a mother of a young child too, I’m amazed at how mean kids actually are to each other. However, I look at things a little differently than you do though because I don’t want my son to have a best friend right now,

    We actually told our son that he’s not allowed to have a best friend . We found that in doing so, we took all the pressure off him. We explained to him that now is his time to find something that he likes in everyone, even the bully’s. He’s allowed to hang out, have play dates, etc, but right now, he needs to learn how to pick friends…he’s the judge, not them. What makes a good friend, a good friend to him? Maybe one friend makes him laugh, another friend encourages him to try new things, another friend listens to him, another friend plays sports with him, etc.

    He’s learning about all these great qualities in people. He even has friends who help him with his chores!! And he returns the favor in like! Now that he knows that he doesn’t have to find all these qualities in one person right now, he enjoys each person for their positive qualities and he doesn’t isolate others or not give them a chance because he already has a “best friend.”

    It’s been pretty amazing to see him develop in his ability to pick out good and bad qualities in other kids.

    February 5, 2016

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