My girls are getting to the age where friendship means everything. To girls anyway.
I hear things in the evening like ‘we’re not best friends anymore’ or ‘I’m not playing with her anymore’ or ‘she’s my new BFF!’ or tears of ‘why doesn’t she play with me?’
And I know it’s just the beginning.
But worse. I don’t have the answers.
And at 43 I ask the same damn questions and it makes me want to scream that it really does matter that much.
I’m only screaming because friendship is as important delicate matter of the heart as a lover is. Yet sometimes we don’t treat it that way.
To be accepted. To be loved. To be forgiven. To forgive. To be included. To be important. To build someone up. To break-up with someone. To tell someone that you love that they hurt you. To hurt someone even when you didn’t mean to. To move away. To not know what to say. To need a hug. To reach out. To close-out. To share your secrets. To be betrayed. To celebrate each other.
Navigating friendships is something I will be of little help with to my children. I can only tell them to be themselves. To follow their heart. To be a good person. To be nice. And to be strong. To be generous with hugs. And to be forgiving without being a doormat.
But they must make their own friends and I know that so many times their hearts will hurt. How to explain that you may not like everyone but you must be nice to everyone because that is what good people do. And that not everyone will like them but those people never have the right to be mean to them.
And in the meantime I can only offer a bit of advice to them and try to exhibit my own behavior that is worth modeling.
1. If you have been hurt or have an issue with someone – talk to that person. They need to know why. Shutting someone out of your life isn’t fair to you or anyone else. Communication is a beautiful thing. And never never assume guilt without first trying to prove your friend innocent.
2. Never trust he said/she said. Go to the source if you want an answer to something you may have ‘heard’. I know you would want the same done for you.
3. Don’t take on a pack mentality. You love your best friend. Your best friend is very angry with someone. That doesn’t give you the right to also be angry at the person. I know you love your friend and I know you are loyal to your friend. But it’s not your fight. You don’t have to see a movie with that someone but be a good person and be nice. Always. It’s that pack/group mentally that starts gangs and wars and bullying and it’s crap. Have your own mind and heart and if your friend doesn’t understand than they might just not love you that much for who you are but only who you are for them.
4. Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to them directly. Admit you are weak and human. But be honest.
5. Don’t take everything so personally. I know this is impossible for a girl, but knowing how great you are and that you are okay will take you far. You don’t need someone else to tell you that. But I know it helps.
6. Never ever ever never ever take the passive aggressive route. Whether face to face or hiding on twitter or facebook – don’t spew shit. Don’t spew negativity. If you have something you want to say – have the balls to say it to whom you mean it for(OH GAH bad grammar) or if you cannot do that..then keep it to yourself.
7. Don’t ignore someone who is reaching out to you. Maybe you really don’t want to talk to them. But remember they are also a human with feelings so let them know that you don’t want to and why. Why. They deserve that. You would want the same.
8. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about others.
9. If your friend confides in you. Keep her secret. Unless it’s a life/death situation. Keep her secret. Don’t betray your friends. And if you do…don’t lie to them. Admit you are human. Apologize.
10. Apologizing doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are human. Asking for forgiveness is not a sign of weakness.
11. You will have major/minor disagreements. We’re human. It happens. It might be for something that seems huge one day…but maybe a few days later it doesn’t seem so big. It’s okay to be the first one to admit it.
12. As much as you want to be the best and nicest friend ever..don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Admit you cannot do it all but still support your friend.
13. Offer more hugs than you thought you ever had to give. Be kind. Be generous. Be there.
14. Say no when you need to. Friends still have their own minds, hearts, other friends and interests. Be true to yourself. First. Always. Or you are truly no good for anyone.
And now my male readers just read this and said “wow – we just say ‘do you want a beer’ and then watch the game.” Which makes me really kind of want to be a guy right now but I truly have no interest in having a penis.
So I guess for now I’ll just accept the emotional being I am as a woman and do my best to help my girls navigate this road and stock-up on Midol.