Tag Archives: friendship

How Do I Tell My Son His Friend is Now a Girl?

A girl and a boy

Please check out my guest post on My Migraine Family about explaining to Zach about his friend being transgender.

Building a Village, One Block at a Time

My childhood was extremely lonely. We somehow always lived far away from my school friends, and there usually weren’t kids my age living nearby. I didn’t really start to develop real friendships until I was in high school and able to drive myself around.

I’d say I’ve gotten much better at making friends once I had kids. I joined a mommy group when Zach was only six-weeks-old because I was quickly aware that I could not do this alone. Six-and-a-half years later, I’m still friends with most of the mommy group members, but none of them live in really close walking distance.

Neighborhood Kids

Photo by Ned Horton

I’ve been envious of my friends who can send their kids a few doors down to a neighbor’s house so I recently decided to reach out to another family on our street with young children.

Last week, I invited the six- and nine-year old girls who live five doors down from us. I was pretty nervous about how things would go. Zach and the six-year-old girl are only a few weeks apart, but sometimes Zach has a hard time playing with new kids, especially girls. He’ll insist on playing Legos or Star Wars, and some kids just aren’t in to either of those things. It can be miserable for everyone involved.

I needn’t have worried. Zach and the girl got along immediately and had a great time. Right after the play date ended he asked me to invite her to his birthday party. His birthday is in the summer time.

Kaylee was much slower to warm up to the nine-year-old girl. She’s used to being around six-year-olds, but I guess the extra three-year difference really intimidated her. She would only sit on my lap and resisted any attempts from the girl to play with her.

Thankfully, the girl could draw, and after a few minutes of telling her what to draw, Kaylee finally went off to her room to play with her. By the end of the play date, they were walking down the street holding hands. At one point the girl was carrying Kaylee down the street like a cat, and Kaylee loved it.

We’ve already scheduled another play date this week at their house. I’m working on setting up get-togethers with the other family with a young child on our street and another family two blocks away.

I think that Zach is old enough to walk his sister five houses down without adult supervision, although I just found out the 16-year-old girl next door is learning to drive, so I may make them carry a loud bike horn to announce when they’re crossing each driveway.

I’m hoping that when Zach’s nine or ten years old, I can send him out around the neighborhood on his bike or on foot for a few hours at a time.

Do you let your kids go to neighbors’ houses on their own yet? When will you?

Real Friends Accept Each Other, Messes and All

When Zach was a year-and-a-half old, I joined a “Sit n Play” group. It was a group of six families that met every week, rotating through each of our houses. Whenever it was my turn to host, I became a total wreck, frantically cleaning the house, including mopping the floor. No matter that the kids would track in dirt and sand as soon as they toddled inside. I was terrified the moms would judge me and think I was a bad mother.

I needn’t have worried of course because they were all gracious, friendly, and their houses looked just like mine (before I cleaned up). I noticed that their bathroom sinks and floors sometimes looked in need of a bit of scrubbing, but I didn’t mind. Mostly I felt grateful. I wasn’t a horrible mother with a messy house. I was a mother just like all of my friends, and we had young children so of course we had messy houses. I still like to sweep before someone comes over, but that’s the extent of it, no scrubbing, no mopping, and no stressing out. Sometimes I haven’t even swept, and lo and behold, I noticed the world didn’t end. It’s been hugely liberating.

Another thing I used to do was to buy pastries ahead of time and make a pot of coffee. Maybe it’s just my set of friends, but most of them seemed more grateful when I stopped providing the pastries. Quite often they bring their own bottles of water or tea. I still offer to make tea but sometimes forget to actually make any, and as far as I know, no one’s been offended.

My messy living room

Sometimes you just need to build a Mythbusters-style obstacle course.

Recently, a friend of mine went through that special level of hell where one member after another in her family was sick, and she was housebound for a few weeks. I asked if she wanted some company, and she said her house was a mess, but if I didn’t mind, I could come over.

My friend wasn’t kidding when she said her house was a mess. I’d been there many times over the years, and I’d never seen this fine coating of crushed Cheerios all the way from the front door through the kitchen into the playroom before. My friend’s house cleaner, who also works as her part-time nanny, hadn’t been able to come over to clean because she’d caught the kids’ cold. I admired my friend’s “I can’t stand that the house is like this, but it is what it is” attitude.

I thanked her for trusting me enough to let me come over when her house was like that. She laughed and admitted she wouldn’t have let just anyone come over. In that moment, I felt incredibly proud of all the hard work I’ve done in therapy, particularly in letting go of my perfectionism and judgment. In exchange, I’ve gained self-confidence and a depth of friendship that I simply wasn’t capable of before.

There is, however, the temptation to overcompensate by letting the mess in my house get so bad it’s become a fire hazard. So far, as long as I can still find the children and the cat among the piles of construction paper, Legos, and cheap goody bag toys, I think we’re doing okay.

Do you clean up before friends come over? How much?

I Must Have Done Something Good

My family has been watching “The Sound of Music” for the last few days. My husband has never seen it all the way through, and my kids have never seen it at all. I absolutely love the music and Julie Andrews’ and Christopher Plummer’s performances. One of the first songs I learned to play on piano was “Do a Deer.” I was eight years old.

Julie Andrews in

The Sound of Music (image courtesy of IMDb)

One of my favorite songs from the movie is “Something Good.” The first two stanzas are:

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

I used to think of my husband when I would hear this song, but now I think of all of my friends, family, neighbors, and even acquaintances. I used to be so damaged that I couldn’t make or keep new friends. I couldn’t talk to strangers. I was incredibly rude and impatient with people. It’s almost embarrassing now how chatty I get with anyone and everyone. Getting treatment for my depression helped me find value in myself and made me want to acknowledge the value in other people.

I worried most of my life that I would end up alone, unloved and unlovable. I’m grateful for the people in my life that despite my short temper and my many insecurities, loved me anyway, and inspired me to find the deeper part of myself that knew that I was a good person, that I could be kind, loving, and generous.

I’m turning 40 years old this week. There were two times in my life where I seriously contemplated committing suicide. I still think about it every now and then when I’m really, really tired. Not of actually attempting it, just that I want to stop working so hard. Now it’s a really ridiculous thought because I have so much to look forward to. I want to see my kids grow up, hopefully get married, and have kids of their own. I want to grow old, not only with my husband, with my friends and their families.

When I’m exhausted, and I want to stop working so hard, I do just that. I remind myself, “I’m okay.” Not just that I’m safe, but also that I’m okay as a person. I’m not perfect, but I don’t need to be. I’ve heard that people surround themselves with others who mirror them. I look around at the people I spend most of my time with, and I’m feeling like I definitely must have done something good, because these people are freakin’ awesome.

Whom in your life are you really grateful for?