Tuesday, July 5, 2011

About Friends

OK, so by now it may be evident that I create a bit of mental anxiety (guilt?) for myself as far as my kids go. I'm not exactly an easy going mom. I worry about their diets, their daycare, their sleep habits, their bathroom habits, whether they see their parents enough, whether they watch too much TV, whether I'm a crappy mom for yelling at them (in my mind) constantly. Whether I am circling anywhere within a 12-mile radius of what might be called "good parenting" and "raising upstanding citizens."

Yes, I do worry about all of those things. Though definitely NOT all at once. I am able to live with myself and function at a somewhat high level, after all.

My guilt/anxiety/worry/whatever you want to call it all really boils down to how well my efforts now will prepare my kids for the morass that is high school (and let's be honest, in this day and age, probably middle school, too), and all the peer pressures and temptations and different ways that LIFE could go horribly, horribly wrong for them (have I ever mentioned how the A&E show "Intervention" is my worst parenting nightmare come to life?? For real. And there's so, so much more than drug addiction to worry about out there!).

But to be honest, my job as a parent is only part of the influence. I think M. and I do a descent job making the kids feel loved, giving them some consequences, helping them be clothed and fed and generally secure (but not too secure). That really is the bulk of a parent's job, right? All the other tactics (Tiger Mom? Lots of praise? Only earned praise? Giving choices? Restricting choices? Homeschooling? Private schooling? Public schooling? Exclusive breastfeeding? Cloth diapering? etc) that one might read about and do or not do or not do and criticize others for doing is all just... extra stuff. Maybe it's important, maybe it's not. But it's extra, in my book, as long as we're doing those parts about love and consequences and food/clothing and security.

I have (for the most part) control over my interactions with my kids. They aren't always what I think of as "ideal," but I do have control there. What I won't have control over is my kids' interactions with their friends. And that is another whole sphere of influence that will help shape who my kids become.

The right friend(s) can mean the difference between good grades and bad. Between learning to say no (to sex, to drugs, to whatever you aren't quite ready for) and getting in over your head. Between happiness and self esteem, and depression. Maybe not for all, but for many. I have always been one to succumb to peer pressure (good god, I only started this blog because my sister had one! Although perhaps that could also be the competitive gene kicking in...), and I credit the straight-laced group of friends that I had all throughout public school (and my sisters!!) for my lack of bad behavior.

So, how do I help my kids choose the right friends?

Since my children may not count my advice for much when they are older and it is most pertinent, I'll put down a few suggestions for posterity's sake here.

A good friend is always supportive, even when they are jealous.

A good friend will not talk shit about other friends. If your friend talks shit about mutual friends, run, don't walk, away. Because they're probably doing the same thing about you behind your back.

A good friend has ambition. That ambition should include scholastic or vocational achievement of some sort. It should not be solely focused on dating or partying or achieving clear skin (though such things do have a place, to a degree).

A good friend should like to read, at least a little.

A good friend is one with a curfew.

A good friend wants success for you.

A good friend will hold your hair while you puke, and take you out for coffee in the morning. Please note that I'd prefer this only be exercised in college, however.

A good friend will always like whoever you are dating, even when they really don't. You can find out the crappy stuff on your own, and then a good friend will provide a very nice shoulder to cry on.

A good friend is one you are comfortable with, even after years apart and far too sporadic e-mails and phone calls. And by "comfortable", I mean able to discuss sex, poop, relationships, hopes, fears, mucuous plugs... you know, ANYTHING.

I have good friends. Some I have known forever, some are a bit newer. For all of them, I don't see them enough. But I love them, and I know they have my back.

The luck of dorm assignment in college brought me to this lovely lady. We share a name, a sense of humor, and much more.

And this one. Jennifer. Oh! The laughs we have shared. And frankly, a lot of tears. The good ones and the bad ones. The William and Mary housing system must have had some sort of Match.com beta system when they picked roommates my year. I was so, so fortunate.

Margo and I were each charmed by fellows from Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and managed to find each other out here on the East Coast as a result. She is nice and lovely and funny and the best wine drinking buddy EVER. And she is leaving me to move to Minnesota. I am sad.

Stacey, Kristin, Natalie, Helen, Me. Two I have known since birth, and the other two for almost just as long. We are ALL like sisters.

I must share more photos from our girls' weekend of revelry. And all of those caveats about picking up where we left off? Completely true.

Though I don't think there was any hair-holding, and we were all able to eat breakfast (at least the second morning).

And I definitely consider my sisters to be my friends. Best friends, really.

I have more good friends, but not many more. Good friends are hard to come by, and I cherish mine.

I hope Finn and Lucy find the same.

And I hope they consider each other as good friends, if not always, then eventually.

What signs of a good friend would you add to this list?


  1. Lovely Allison, you bring tears to my eyes. . .I think your children, husband, and friends are very lucky! And, so, of course, are you! (and we, too!). .love, Mimi

  2. Great post! I too worry about the type of friends Cameron will be making. The last thing I want is for her to be a mean girl!

  3. I know I'm late to comment but I flagged this after vacation to come back and comment. LOVE this post. Truly totally love.