I met one of my closest friends, because of my children’s school. She is the complete opposite of me, all girly, flirty, with a thing for pink, and I just love her to bits. She tried to abduct my eldest offspring into her car. We had recently moved into the area and the offspring were all starting new schools. My oldest, despite all our practise runs on public transport, suffered a disaster in her first week. The bus she was on, broke down, the driver told them all to get off, head up the hill and catch another bus, to get to school on time. She hadn’t a clue where she was as everyone hurried away. One of the older girls on the bus, decided to walk home and get her Mum to take her to school, in the car. She mentioned the upset looking girl, so they set off to find her.
Eldest offspring is now wandering aimlessly around strange streets, trying hard not to sob into her phone, she tries to tell Husband where she is, he’s now set off, on his way to find her. The random stranger spots my daughter and tries for 10 minutes, to entice her into the car, by now its raining and offspring is getting a bit worried. She gets her daughter out of the car, to show she’s in the same school uniform, shows photos of her other children. Offspring tells her that she’s been told never to get into strangers cars. She tells the car owning stranger, that her Dad is coming for her soon. Random stranger has to leave, her daughter is now late for school, they tell school about the upset pupil and school informs them, that they are aware and she’s with her Dad and on the way in.
Me, who left for work early, so I could finish early and do the school collections, I know nothing about it. Husband doesn’t want to worry me, so doesn’t mention it. At school finishing time, I’m standing in the school playground of the younger offspring. I’m the only really new parent, except for Reception class, its a small school and it seems like everyone knows everyone else. Strange, smiling woman comes up to me and says “I tried to get your daughter in my car today, but good for her, she says she’s been told not to go with strangers.”
A jaw dropping, eyes popping moment follows, I’m speechless, but my mind is screaming WTF???? “Did your hubby not tell you?” she asks in a chirpy voice. I could hardly take in what she was saying, as I desperately scrabbled for my phone, to find out if my precious first born, had suffered some traumatic experience, at the hands of this nutter. And right there, little did I know it, was the beginning of a great friendship.
Friendship should be about enjoyment, its a relationship that should be positive and make you feel good about yourself. Having a life rich with friends, helps you cope with the stresses and strains of life. It’s not really about numbers, having a zillion friends on Facebook, isn’t better than having one or two really good, trusted friends. A good friendship should be supportive for both parties, involve a bit of give and take and be based on trust and mutual respect. I’ve suffered in a pink, fluffy cowboy hat and stupid T-shirt on a hen weekend, in the name of friendship.
Friendships evolve over time, they have to in order to survive. I’m not the same person I was, when I met my friend on the first day at Secondary school. We are still friends, despite the vast array of changes, that have taken place in our lives over the years. She still makes me laugh and I know she’ll give me an honest answer. We had an on going game of Misery Top Trumps running, a while back. We both had some horrible things happening in our lives, but in our quest to see who had had the worse day, we often found humour in our situations.
We tend to make friends that suit the different phases in our lives. It can take a lot of work to keep a friendship going, when you begin having different interests. Adapting a friendship, based around an active socialising element, becomes more difficult, when you decide to have children. I decided to have children in my 20′s, my friend thought I was mad. It was hard to sustain that friendship, when I was in the grip of Babyville. Having 3 children under 5, can affect your brain somewhat, never mind the lack of sleep. I had to retain a grasp on the original me and engage in topics that weren’t connected to the wonders of child rearing. She decide to start a family in her late 30′s and now every conversation seems to focus on these little people, I don’t mind, I know she’ll hopefully make it out the other side and I love the fact its added a different aspect to our friendship.
Friendships are tested from time to time. I saw the husband of a very close friend, with another woman, many years ago. I knew I had to tell her, that’s what I hope a friend would do for me. But I was fearful about the repercussions on our relationship. I was, unfortunately, only confirming what she already suspected. He’s now the ex and she’s been my bridesmaid and Godparent to an offspring since.
Not all friendships are good for you. Life is too short I feel, to waste it on people who make you unhappy about yourself. I’ve been ruthless over the years, culling friendships that aren’t good for me. Out went the self centred, where everything is about them, they never really listen to you anyway, have a huff if everything doesn’t go their way. The liars and manipulators, I had one now exfriend, who was dumping her children on me for hours at a time, while she was having an affair and using me as the alibi. Goodbye to those that like nothing better, than to get a little undermining dig in, to erode away your self confidence to make themselves feel superior. I can’t be doing with competitive parents either, there is more to life, as far as I am concerned. Strike the frenemies from your life and you will no doubt find yourself a happier person, as a result.
Making friends is a skill you can learn. One of the most upsetting aspects of Asperger’s for me, is the difficulties it causes with social interaction. The social cues and body language, that others can read so easily, has to be learnt by rote. Finding a friend who likes you, for who you are, seems at times to be an impossible task. Its been a long and at times, lonely journey on this friendship business for my daughter, but she has made a few good friends, who accept her, just as she is. You can help you child learn ways, to encourage friendship with others. Learning that conversations involve taking turns, listening and knowing that it is rude to talk over someone else, unless an emergency. Sharing, expressing an interest in others, showing empathy for the other person. It might seem quite odd, but these social overtures, can lead to a connection with another person, which then builds up to a friendship. Give your child handy hints, on ways to start a conversation with other children. Practise at home, so that it becomes easier. Set a little challenge, he/she has to talk to a different child each day. Talk about how it went, pointers on how they could have extended the conversation. Other people can be shy as well, just waiting for somebody else to take the lead.
My daughter’s friends attend the same school as she does, but it wasn’t really through school that the friendships were formed. Attending clubs and having leisure interests, not only make you a more interesting person to know, but also increase the amount of people, you come into contact with. So therefore more practise at your social skills, developing a shared interest and hopefully some friends .Its never too late to make new friends. Friendship is about connections, just by starting off with a “Hi”, you are showing someone you acknowledge their existence, that you are interested in them. I think the idea of a person as your friend, isn’t limited to those you actually meet in the flesh. Technology has increased our ways of connecting with other people and as a result, relationships that are supportive, caring and positive, are forming between people on internet forums and places like Twitter. My life would be a lonelier place without my friends.
So now I need you to picture Freddie Mercury from Queen, the tash, the tight trousers, bare chested and strutting his stuff, as he sings ‘Friends will be friends.’
“When you’re in need of love they give you care and attention.
Friends will be friends.
When you’re through with life and and all hope is lost, hold out your hands cos friends will be friends right till the end.”
And be thankful, for all the people in your life that you call friend.