I want to take a break from my anxiety/depression meme entries and talk about two things I’ve had in my brain lately: being real and being real BFFs. Let’s talk about BFFs first.
Occasionally, Ms. M will meet a new girl and immediately begin referring to the girl as “my BFF.” I cringe every time she does this, first because she recently did that with the girl who lives down the hall from us and the girl went, “But I’m not your BFF. I already have a best friend, and it’s not you.” And while on the OUTSIDE I said: What? Girls can’t have more than one BFF? On the inside, I really wanted to punch the shit out of that kid because girls are really mean sometimes. Estrogen creates ego issues, I’ve come to believe.
But also because not everyone is worthy of friendship status let alone being called a best friend. Her aunt and I have both tried to explain to her what officially elevates someone to the lofty “BFF” title, that being things like trustworthiness, consistency, kindness, wanting to hang out as much as possible, and having a lot in common. Also, they should have more good times than arguments. And Ms. M should never feel excluded, made fun of, or used in any way. I’ve subtly ended some friendships with girls from Ms. M’s school because I can see it already: that little girl is well on her way to being a Future Mean Girl. I’m not a Mean Girl. I’m not raising a Mean Girl. We do not hang out with Mean Girls.
Can I be mean? Yes. Can a friend be mean? Yes. But once in awhile, or over things that deserve it. Not because Ms. M, insecure and desperate to be liked and feel like one of the clique, claims she has a dog like Victoria does and a baby sister like Sharon does and then the group of bitchy little mean girls find out that’s not true and decide to start gossiping about M behind her back and occasionally right in front of her and just generally acting like judgmental little jerks. Call me helicopter mom if you want, but that’s one kind of person I don’t want in my child’s sphere of existence. I am painfully aware I have a finite amount of time to help her navigate other human beings, which I am not stellar at myself, and I just don’t have the patience for that kind of person I don’t care how old they are.
One big problem with all of this is that my daughter is an E on the Myers-Briggs scale and I am very much an I. Ms. M renews her energy off social situations, being around other people, being loud, reveling in attention, doing…THINGS. I look forward to introspective activities – reading, writing, binge-ing an entire three seasons of a Netflix show, or just sitting and thinking. I don’t mind parties and going out – on Saturday, for instance, I’m going to a coworker’s house for a fun, casual get together. I am looking forward to this; I genuinely like the people I work with, even the ones on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me…we are great friends (until they start complaining about Obama – who isn’t even in charge anymore – and talking about how magnificent Trump is and then I’m all: but have you seen the stuff where they’re, like, GIVING AWAY THE FREE GUATEMALAN KIDS THEY KIDNAPPED FROM THEIR MOMS????? UH HELLO??????? …………but I digress).
Here’s how *I* work: When invited to a house party, I’ll show up punctually at 6:30 pm, with my beverage and appetizer contributions. We will talk and laugh and OH MY GOD THEY DID NOT!!! about the various things that happen in our place of work or on the news or around town or whatever. Maybe we will play a card game of some sort. By about 10:30 pm, I’ll be all Welp, you guys this was amazing! But if I don’t get in my car to go home like within the next 6 minutes I’mma be sleeping on this couch bye see you Monday!! Then I’ll go home, climb in bed and get angry on Twitter for awhile about things I can’t control, and then I’ll be asleep. I will spend Sunday recuperating from all my people-ing, because I have to do it again for five days straight starting in less than 24 hours.
That’s how *I* work.
This is how my daughter works: When invited to even the most casualest of get togethers, she shows up 15-20 minutes early SUUUUUUPPPPPER excited, wanting to help clean and decorate and cook and set up and pick the music and oh my god oh my god oh my god you guys we’re having a party i LOOOOOVE parties don’t YOU??? parties ROCK!!!!! By 1:00 am when everyone has either left or can be seen painfully yawning, she will be suggesting a rousing game of Charades or wanting to stick in a Wii Just Dance game. She’ll finally drop off about 3:30 am, be up at 7:45 am, and spend the rest of her day existentially depressed because why do parties have to end??? why why WHYYYY????? will there ever be another party???? can WE have a party???? YOU NEVER HAVE PARTIES MOM!!! EVERYBODY else on the entire PLANET has them!!! Every day!!!!! when can we go to another party wheeeen????
I love her. I know way back in eons before time we picked each other out – said: hey, let’s go to planet Earth one day and be Mother/Daughter – up in Heaven or wherever these things are decided. But holy Mother Goose on a popsicle stick, she does exhaust me a lot. I just don’t have her extroversion. Even writing about it has left me a wee bit drained.
But I also get it: this is a child who doesn’t just need friends, she requires them. She needs friends like fish need water and Donald Trump needs FOX News show hosts telling him how amazing he is. It’s the only way she can mentally survive a world full of chaotic, bad people and too much quiet. I spent this summer trying to teach her that existence in a calm home and being bored is actually okay, healthy even, and that sometimes it’s nice to just have a quiet day alone. In your bedroom. Quiet. ….this lasted exactly 2 days, 2 hours each day. Then we had to go to the pool. Where there was no one to play with, and she cried.
The problem with all of this is – I WANT her to have friends, but I want NICE girls. She is resistant to seeing the reality of other people (apples…trees). This has caused a lot of tears on her part and a lot of worry and anxiety on my part; I can see what they are. She cannot (will not).
Also? I DON’T want to have be friends with her friends’ parents.
Some things about that: she can be friends with kids from her school, but they can’t spend the night with us. I’m also reluctant to even have kids from her school in my home. It’s a job safety thing. We also live 45 minutes from where she goes to school. So I’m also reluctant to drive 45 minutes to take some kid I don’t know, whose parents I know even less, out for pizza and a movie. I will do it, have done it. But I usually get pissed off in the end…not at the kid, at the parents.
PSA for Parents: if another parent takes your child off your hands for 3 or more hours or, god forbid, an ENTIRE NIGHT…unofficial parenting rules state you MUST reciprocate. It is poor form not to reciprocate. I have bought your child food and an outing activity. Can we at least get a dinner invite for my kid?
In addition, I have yet to meet a parent of one of Ms. M’s numerous BFFs who I’d genuinely want to be friends with myself. Making friends – GOOD friends – is a process. You have to get to know each other. That takes time, but it also requires you to be real with someone. I spend a lot of time at work covering up the real me. I am myself, but I’m also not. I don’t know if that makes sense. I don’t talk politics at work, ever. First, it’s just not the place for it, but also where I work at I’m in the minority. Second, I share personal things about myself because I’m just that kind of a person – I genuinely have never had a problem airing my dirty laundry for others to see. I think it connects us, and lets people know they aren’t the only ones. (And to those people who look at it and go: EWWW, what an attention whore! I say: fuck you.) But I can’t air out my dirty underpants at work. I’m willing to let them see my PJs, but they can’t see my unmentionables. And third: I cuss. Not all willy-nilly just to throw out the F word or whatever, but once in awhile I do cuss a little like a pirate, or at least a pirate’s wench. Because of my life experiences and personal explorations, I am mixture of preppy Club Med and lascivious Hedonism II Negril, Jamaica. And I only occasionally go to church, and the church we go to has Reiki healers and crap.
So I can’t be real. Not at work. Like my social media is pretty much on lock down as well because of it. I just don’t need people I work with knowing the REAL real me – they get just real me, the 75% awesome version. I save the full Monty for people I know for sure are safe. And over the last 3 years or so? I have made three – THREE – bad calls on that. So I’m super cautious.
What this means for Ms. M: she has to depend on me texting and calling up moms of girls from her old school we got to know. This means peopleing for me, and I have to be in a right emotional zone for that to happen. One recent blessing is her new friend T from down the hall…whose mom gets it and did reciprocate by having M over for a sleepover last weekend. That’s good. But she also seems really tired and a lot like me actually: not so loud, please. T and M would basically live together…like, ask the apartment people to knock out the wall between T’s living room and our kitchen. But T’s mom and I, single mothers and she’s got a 9 month old baby who cries a LOT…we need the wall. (This is the only kind of wall building I support, by the way.)
What all of this means for me: a lot of flippin’ guilt.
Because I’m tired after work every day, weekends are for decompressing from all the peopleing I’ve done Monday-Friday, and also I hate hate HAAATE making small talk with people I know aren’t being their real selves with me so I can’t be my real self with them. Or they are being their real selves, and there is simply no chance I’ll ever feel connected enough to them to reveal my real self.
I once had lunch with two moms while our 3 girls played, and the conversation made me want to stab myself in the eye with one of the forks on the table. I kind of expected this from Mom #1, but Mom #2 had like 10 tattoos and liked reading and some geeky things so I thought she’d be more relaxed…nope. They were both super careful with me, about being positive about everything, keeping things light, and NO, absolutely not a single word, NO cursing. Neither of these women attend church, and every time I’ve been in Mom #1’s house, her husband is mixing some kind of alcoholic beverage and offering me some. But nope. We gotta sit around a restaurant table and pretend like we’re all chaste, perfect moms who know exactly what we’re doing. I can’t even with that. Come on.
This is why I don’t have a BFF. Unlike my daughter, this situation doesn’t cause me real physical pain. It makes me sad when I get on social media to see women I like and often hang out with refer to another woman as her “best friend.” I feel sort of like…a longing? But nothing I’m in a big hurry to do anything about.
First, I know how I am: there have been whole days, WEEKS actually, over the last several years I’m lucky if I manage to pull myself out of bed and to the couch, let alone do a load of laundry. I can’t go out for wine or to the movies because I’m usually tired and typically broke. Second, forming a really good, solid friendship not only requires meeting someone you feel a real connection to and desire to bond with, but it also requires time…phone talks, dinner outings, movie dates, hanging out at each others’ homes, getting to know each others’ families, convincing each others’ families they WANT to get to know this person, I can go on. I mean, we’re talking about at least a 2-3 year commitment of friendship foundation. And after all THAT, I feel like it’s like dating: at some point, there should be a “What Are We Doing Here?” conversation. Is this what I think it is? Do you feel for me the way I feel for you? Are we…dare I say it…BESTIES?? Are you in BFF with me?? Cuz I think I’m in BFF with YOU! And then you have to get on social media and announce it somewhere: Amy is in a BFF with Jane.
That is making me want to take a nap (which is good, because as I type it is almost 10:15 pm and I need to go to bed anyway).
So. That’s my blog entry for tonight. BFFs and being real. I think I also had a really long rant about being real – you know, how some people use Facebook to present an image that’s not real. Oh, look! Look at my profile picture! It’s me making out with my boyfriend! We look SO cute together! I guess I’ll keep him for awhile! We’re a bit rough around the edges, but are sooooo much in true love. (Even though he cheated on me 5 times last year and I freaking hate his guts and tell him so like 4 times a day and just yesterday I dumped him for the 100th time this year.)
But I’m not doing that rant because I’ve just written like 5000 words about BFFs and I’m peopled out by proxy.
So I’m stopping here, without a single problem in my world solved. Par for the course…this seems to be how humanity is doing things these days. Now please excuse me, I need to post a meme on Facebook about loving everyone no matter what even though earlier tonight I almost lost my cool on a woman who did not understand the My Space/Your Space concept at WalMart, who kept inching closer and closer to me and when I’d move away she’d move even closer until finally I’d had it and just said in an exasperated way, “You know what? YOU go ahead of me. Please.” Then I flounced off to the OTHER side of the cash register area because GAH and holy mother of god I hate people. That’s my blog. Happy Wednesday.