Monday, October 03, 2005

You Gotta' Have Friends

I've noticed something as I've made my novice way through the blog world: I must have had a lousy school experience. There are so many people who are renewing friendships from high school, and it's not just mere curiosity to see what the cheerleader/jock looks like now that they've put on a few pounds and added a few kids to their family. These are real friendships: the kind where you have a lot of common ground to rib each other about and where you know each others' kids.

I was always jealous of such relationships. I guess I still am, to a point. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying I didn't have friends in high school, but of all the people I grew up and went to school with, there is only one whom I still call occasionally. We grew up next door to one another, and she's my 3rd cousin. Still, I can't say we're super close. The group of friends I hung out with at school ended up being just that: people I associated with at school but not much anywhere else. They would get together outside of school and do stuff, but they rarely, if ever, included me. Of course, I found all this out much later when I was invited to a bridal shower and they all made reference to some common experience. They seemed confused when I didn't know what they were talking about. It hurt me then. It still hurts now. I had come to believe that they were true friends.

I watch my son A--, now in 4th grade, and see him struggling socially the same way I did. Third grade for him was a year from social hell. He played mostly with one friend (a girl). They both got teased mercilessly. This year, thankfully, seems to be much better. A-- has decided that kickball is fun and spends many of his recesses on the blacktop with a variety of boys and girls. But I am filled with dread upon hearing him say that J--, one of the mean kids from last year, likes to pick A-- to be on his team solely because A-- will ask J-- to kick for him. Is it right to let him be happy about being chosen on the basis of his willingness to be trodden underfoot? I wonder if that is why my school "friends" allowed me to be a part of their group. Was I a friend of convenience, like a piece of toilet paper, to be used when you want it but to be ignored when you don't? It worries me. I don't want to see my boy as miserable as I sometimes was. And let's face it: the pain of social rejection, when it occurs during your youth, never goes away.

Thankfully, I now know what true friends are. School was so long ago, and was such a relatively short period in my life. The great thing about being an adult is that I have much more time ahead of me to be the kind of friend and build the kind of friendships that I want. What a blessing to have my husband as my best friend. Next to him, and in no particular order, come Nancy, Katherine, Shannon, Karolyn, Lorien, Dalene, Melody, Marilyn, Stefanie, Regan, Annette, Corrine, Lesleigh, and so many others. You have done wonders to heal past hurts. Thanks.

11 comments:

Lorien said...

awww. thanks. nice to be listed on the nice girls list. ya gotta hate those mean girls. it is amazing how much those formative years impact the rest of our lives. (scary, really.) it's been interesting to me to realize I still have some old lingering insecurities deep down. I figured I was a pretty secure and confident person in a pretty safe place, but then upon entering blog world, I suddenly began experiencing old worries, like "is that person really my friend?" etc. I suppose my strategy is to try to be the kind of friend I want to have. I'm not perfect, but hey, I try!

watching your child experience challenges adds a whole new dimension to all of this. it's one thing to feel or remember pain myself, but I think it's worse to think about my children experiencing the social crap that happens.

compulsive writer said...

Thanks Jules, and right back at you. I thought about friends the other day when Lorien was frantically looking for Maddy. I'm sure Lorien knew we would all be there in a heartbeat praying for Maddy to be found soon, safe and sound, and to go drag the neighborhood--probably not very effectively--because we just had to do something to help. I thought it would've been exactly the same had it been any one of us in her shoes.

I know it will be the same for any number of illnesses, heartbreaks and/or emergencies that will come to pass. We will have this great circle of friends bearing us up (remember Lorien's beautiful metaphor after Kate died). I know, too, that we will share in one another's joys as well.

Marlsven said...

You really touched me with this one. From now on I'm going to pay extra special attention to that piece of toilet paper and not expect anything in return.

I can't say it didn't hurt to see I wasn't on your friends list. C'mon, I occasionally bless the sacrament. Doesn't that connect us somehow?

Julie said...

Hey--that toilet paper does quite a lot for you in return, ya know. You don't clean your backside with your fingers, do you? (At least not since you wore diapers, right?)

I don't think your occasionally blessing the sacrament really does it for me in terms of bonding. Although the fact that my Kindergartener thinks that your mom is "really beautiful" draws me to you somewhat, as does your thoughts on chicken nuggets.

Julie said...

I have to say something about watching your kids go through the social crap that happens. I figure it's payback time for those who were mean when they were kids. They get to experience the other end of things through their kids. (Of course, this assumes that their own kids end up being picked on.) And for those of us who know what it feels like to be picked on, we can teach our kids not to do it to others and how to survive when kids treat them that way. Of course, learning a few Karate moves can't hurt either.

Lorien said...

Skills. Skills are what our kids need, like numchuck skills, computer hacking skills...I'm sure those are more important than social skills.

Mat6t, if Julie just heard a little more "The Church Came Back" now and then, you would totally be on her list. How can you NOT bond with that? I mean, hey, it did it for me. That and spooning.

Julie said...

Yeah, Mat6t. When do I get to hear this famous (or infamous) song? I'll pass on the spooning, if you don't mind, but music could certainly promote some sort of ward family member bonding experience. That and swearing at testimony meeting.

Lorien said...

did I mention that I think you'd have more friends if you lived in the REAL part of the ward?

Lessel Peeper said...

What can I say, childhood social interaction sucked. Trying to be a nice person to everyone resulted in public ridicule and continual tormenting. Trying to side with the rest of the group made you a traitor to everyone, making matters worse.

Kids are just mean. It's always nice to be the kid with a million friends and at the center of all activities, but it seems like every group finds some sort of scapegoat upon whom it heaps its hatreds and shortcomings (read Lord of the Flies some time). I had that role off and on for years and received the brunt of much physical, emotional, and (et al) abuse.

I can still remember getting pummelled by 5-6 kids in my gradeschool class until I was bruised and bloodied. All because they used me as a target for a "snowball fight" until I threw one back and got a lucky hit.

It IS hard to forget those experiences or let them go--even when you interact later on in life as adults. I still have difficulty interacting with many of my peers from my school days, but what do you do?

Julie said...

Lessel: What do you do? You hope that the children of the bullies end up as victims of the same activities their parents participated in. (Not a very Christian thought, is it?) A kindlier solution would be to leave past bullies in the past and make friends with the nicer people that now surround you.

Lorien: Well, SOMEONE has to live over here on the fringes just so you can claim friendship with those on the edge of the church (or at least the edge of the ward). I'm not moving. (sorry, Karolyn)

Lessel Peeper said...

Watch out Lorien, she's a woman on the edge (of the ward, at least).

....I had my mouth open and everything....