Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Difficult Kind

Making friends as an adult is hard, particularly when you move on from one on one friendship to couples trying to ensure that everyone involved has a solid time when you get together.  This becomes especially challenging once additional child personalities are added to the equation.  Now that there are so many friends and families whose babies have grown into toddlers and pre-schoolers, there is a lot of personality going around.  This makes it even more difficult to find the perfect blend of personalities for a harmonious and enjoyable get together.  It's like arranging three, or in my case four "like" connections and recognizing that sometimes a good first play-date, second play date or third doesn't necessarily mean a "like" connection has been made.

Most adults are no strangers to the fact that once you're out of school that it's harder to make friends than it once was with a, "Hey aren't you in my Geography class?".  This paired with life changes including partnerships, work commitments and parenthood, it's really no surprise that a social research study revealed that, "when it comes to your close friends, you lose about half and replace them with new ones after about seven years."

toddlers in party hats
This is where the party ends

With the constant shedding and gaining of close social networks, it's no surprise the increase in the number of friend matching site Groupons and Living Social Deals (like but for making friends) that keep flowing in and out of my email inbox, much like email conversations from close friends, apparently.  I  pontificate that children may experience the seven year friendship itch in a frequency akin to dog years as they grow, change and develop at such an incredible rate each and every day.

If you are close enough friends or family you can work through the foibles and scrapes that your respective kids get into together, but other times things can get a little bit awkward.

I have a strong personality and my daughter Molly is also a force to be reckoned with.  She has strong opinions and a phenomenal memory. A girl at daycare pulled her hair, over a year ago and the child's name cannot be mentioned without a comment from Molly about the hair pulling incident.  At a birthday party an older kid snatched a play tea set off a then two year old Miss Molly, she still mentions that she does not like this child.  At a family Christmas party my daughter encountered another little girl her age who also has a take-charge personality.  For Jack it was love at first sight as he followed after this other little girl who promptly bossed him around, much like his sister.  Molly was unimpressed and was not afraid to be vocal about her feelings.

A number of weeks ago I arranged for a play date for Molly and a friend of hers.  She had begged for it and talked about it for days before, insisting that her brother was not allowed to attend.  Molly and I arrived, the girls said hello, and promptly took turns ignoring each other for over an hour.  It was incredibly awkward as both myself and the other mother, an aquaintence, tried to coax the girls to play together.  Apparently the "like" connection was gone.  On the way home I was furious with Molly, weekend mornings are precious and I'd wasted one making small talk and pretending not to notice passive aggressive three year old behaviour.  Eventually I calmed down and recognized that she's allowed to change her mind and I shouldn't chastize her for "not feeling it any more".  We talked a little and she was also disappointed.

As we begin exploring childhood friendships I need to recognize that my daughter, much like her mother, is kinda a pain in the butt.  As a child I remember often silently going through the motions with "friendships" that I didn't want.  That being said, the childhood friends who are still in my life are freaking amazing people.  I am going to try hard not to force friends on either child, that being said Jack has only ever complained about one kid on a regular basis - his sister, but will make them try to be kind.

So attention current and future friends and family, I'm sorry if my kid is being a d-bag to your kid, acting aloof or punishing them for hair pulling crimes that happened a third of their lives ago.  We can work it out, I swear!

Does anyone else have any advice for managing kid and adult friendships?

To read about my childhood frenemy click here.

To read what it's like to be the first in your friend group to have kids click here.

To read about having toddlers, surrounded by friends with babies click here.

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