Tuesday, 4 September 2012

My Own Prison

In celebration of the official first day of school I am going to post something that I wrote a couple of months ago about my experiences as a kid and how my time as a mom has altered them.  I have hesitated from posting this entry for a while, because it's really personal.  In unrelated news, I am exhausted from completing the 3 Day  Novel Contest this weekend, and I am proud to say that we finished our novella, What's in it for Ned? just under the wire.  If I never see another plate of lasagna again I might be okay with that.

My first year in school there were very few other girls in my class.  My mom became fast friends with another mom and I ended up having play dates with "Friend" (FR) by association.  At first the friendship wasn't so bad, and I didn't have any other female friends for comparison, all of the kids that I played with on my street were boys and I wasn't wise to the world of "girl" friendship yet.

The first chip at our friendship was when she told me that another girl in our class routinely said the F word.  Only knowing that the F word was forbidden I dumbly asked said girl if she said the F word, FR then announced that this just wasn't true and called me a liar in front of all of our class mates.  I let it slide, cause I was 5 or 6 years old and didn't know how to deal with it.

FR's mom and mine car-pooled us to various outings, had us exchange play dates and took us out for girl's days (shopping and lunch)  on PA days.  Her mom always commented about how quiet, obedient and polite I was*, that I always finished my vegetables and said please and thank you.  The result of this was her open, utter and total dislike for me that grew exponentially with each year that passed along with my own silent passiveness.  

As time went by FR became quite popular and I floundered in my own prepubescent dorky awkwardness.  I'd be invited to her parties with the popular girls, but only because her mom made her.  I continued to be chauffeured to various after school activities with her where she'd ignore me once we arrived and made fun of everything about me from the way I tucked my leggings into my slouchy socks and how she knew that I still played with Barbies because I was such a loser.**  I'd sit there anxiously while the popular girls chatted about french kissing, periods, boys and make-up with nothing to contribute to the conversation.

At a peak of my own awkwardness with giant earrings, a floral dress, awful bangs and Ugly Betty Braces. 

For some weird reason at the time I never objected to doing anything with FR or ratted out to my mom that I thought she was a bitch.  I think it was an odd respect for her popularity.  I still don't get why I didn't just let my mom know that I didn't want to be friends with FR any more.  After grade 8 FR and I never spoke again.  It was as if we'd finally finished our 8-10 year prison sentence and were finally placed on parole.  By the end, our hatred towards each other, even though mine was silent, was completely mutual.

As I grew up, and came into my own in high school and university (in what I like to think of as a dorky Enid from Ghost World kind of way) I began to chastise my mom for making me hang out with FR.  My mom is still in contact with FR's mom and whenever she gives me updates I respond with something to the effect of , "I don't care".

Now that I'm a mom and I've blindly entered the world of parenthood and parent friends I'm beginning to understand what my mom was going through.  She found another mom who genuinely liked to hang out with.  They still talk on the phone regularly and meet up a couple of times a year for nearly 30 years now.  As I try to navigate the world of mom friendship I've begun to realize that adult friendship is about having more in common than, "We're both parents so let's hang out." My mom is a real person with adult needs for friendship.  I think that in my own anger about how I didn't react to a personal situation I forgot this somewhere along the way.

The next time my mom gives me an update about FR I am going to channel my polite 6 year old self: listen, bite my lip, maybe eat some vegetables and keep my snarky comments to myself.***  All my mom is going is updating me on what's new with her friend and I'm nowhere near the prison school yard any more.  Besides me and my dorky AWESOME friends always had a better time together anyway.

*I am pretty sure that anyone who knows adult Sarabeth is probably wiping coffee off of their monitors because they're laughing so hard.  I used to be quiet and polite.  It was a phase, I'm not too proud of it, but I'm over it.
**At which point Barbie playing became a coded game with my other awkward prepubescent friend KM, "Do you want to hang out in my basement" really meant, "Hey, do you want to make all of our Barbies sex up the only two Ken dolls we own?"  The coded system was abandoned in grade 9 when we both finally reached puberty.  I should probably give FR some credit for her fashionable eye because my slouchy socks did look ridiculous. 
***Although I might share them with KM over a glass of wine and some Barbies.


  1. I don't know, that haircut is the perfect hipster-cut. Bring it back.

  2. Wow, I had a friend exactly like that except it started when I was in high school. I guess I continued being friends with her because my own awkwardness did not make me friend material for many other people. It took me about 9 years to finally come into my own and realize I didn't need that kind of person in my life!