Growing up, I would have considered myself a nice kid. I was good in school, had plenty of friends and had a good heart. My family was fabulous, and I wanted for very, very little. My heart broke for less fortunate people and I did my best to be helpful to my parents.
Unfortunately, truth be told, I could also be a little sh*thead. I had (and still have) a very good friend named Christina (name changed for privacy reasons, but you'll know who you are). Our families were friends, and we were together all the time. We were together after school, on weekends and in school. There was even a year she came to my house before school because of her mom's work schedule. I think it was overkill, and there days she copied much of what I did. We all know imitation is a form of flattery, but kids don't understand how that works.
I remember, on more than one occasion, sitting in the back of my mom's station wagon at the McDonald's drive-thru. My mom would turn around and ask what we wanted, and I would hesitate as long as possible before I answered. I knew if I ordered first, Christina would order the same thing. It drove me batty, but it's no excuse. And looking back, there were days I was very, very cruel.
I played this game called "Keep Away from Christina"....all it meant was that if she was around, I would walk away. She would literally walk up to me and I would just turn and leave. It's terrible. I can't even believe I did it, but I did. And I think of my kids now and if someone did that my heart would shatter into a million pieces.
I want punch my kid-self in the forehead. I want to say, "Seriously?! How would YOU feel?!"
For the record, I would lay down my life for this friend, and she is one of the people who knows me best. I had more laughs with her than anyone else growing up, and I can't remember any other friend that made my nostrils flare from laughing so hard. The memories are forever, and I'm forever thankful she kept me.
It makes me realize, especially looking at the world today, that nothing is black and white. Being a friend is a process, and while someone is close to you that doesn't mean you're always nice. Sometimes, you're an ass. A complete and total ass.
And it isn't right, but it happens.
Before we judge and give up friends, we need to talk. Parents need to teach kids why other kids might behave the way they do. There were days I needed to be alone, and I didn't get enough space to breathe. Given the chance to voice that, I may have. It would have saved me and my very dear friend from some very unfortunate behavior.
There are kids at school that are not so nice to my daughter, but I know they aren't happy kids. Or they're jealous. And it stinks because as easy as it is for me to see, kids have a much harder time understanding why someone would behave that way.
But they do. I did it too.
The good news is that as me and my friend Christina grew up, we grew out of that "I'm sick of you" phase. Sure we had our moments, but the playing field was leveled immensely. We had more laughs and more great times. The very last line in my senior yearbook was a reference to her and all our wonderful memories.
Christina, thanks for keeping me. To all the parents out there dealing with kids who may not have the best attitude, or may be having trouble with other kids, don't freak out and jump to conclusions. Are they together too much? Is someone struggling at home? If your child is the offender, talk to them. And be open to the fact that yes, your kid may be a sh*t sometimes. That doesn't make them a BAD kid. It makes them a kid who is making poor choices. If your kid is the one having problems with someone, try and think of why. Communicate, always. It is truly the best line of defense. Education and understanding fix more than we think they do.
I've found that most of us are a lot more alike than we think.
Happy Friday, wishing you a wonderful weekend!