One of the more challenging aspects of adulthood is being able to get along with people that for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to stand. Co-workers, in-laws, friends of teenage children or significant others, some people just make it really hard to like them. Learning how to pretend to is an important part of being a functional member of society and resisting the urge to go live in a tree house somewhere.
My daughter likes everybody. Any trip out of the house is an opportunity to make a new friend, anybody that she has ever randomly come across treated the way that I feel about guys I’ve known for thirty five years.
It’s cute, if sometimes embarrassing and I’ve tried to encourage this outgoing nature. I want her to be nice, want her to continue to be the first one to welcome a new kid in class or offer the seat next to her on the bus. I want her to be the kind of person that the world could use a hell of a lot more of.
I also want her to be able to recognize that there are some people that she doesn’t need to be friends with, that not everybody is deserving of her time and effort. That is a lesson that I’m having a harder time teaching, one that I’m not totally sure that I should be. Is it OK to dislike a six year old, one that I’ve never actually even met? Asking for a friend…
There is a girl that Alaina talks about quite a bit, a “best friend” although she uses that term often and loosely. It’s difficult to judge based on second hand tales from a first grader, but she sounds bossy, rude, and manipulative. They often make things for each other, little craft bracelets and such, and almost every time this little girl is critical, proclaiming hers to be better and sometimes immediately throwing away whatever was given to her. She coerces my daughter into behaviors that she wouldn’t otherwise have, using emotional blackmail and threatening to rescind her friendship whenever she doesn’t get her way. She sounds a lot like too many grown ups that I know.
One of the very first posts that I published here was about the guys that I grew up with, about the importance that they still have to me and about how they had helped mold me into the person that I’ve become. I wrote about the teenager and how aware I was of the influence that others now held in her life and about some of the little girls that Alaina was meeting in pre-school.
Some of those girls she is still friends with, with parents that we now consider friends. Every effort will be made to continue those friendships, to do what I can to surround her with positive influences and good people.
I’m increasingly reminded that there will come a time when this will be out of my hands, her friends no longer mine to dictate.
I have no idea what this little girl is really like, what her circumstances may be or if it’s fair to hope that they aren’t in the same class next year. It’s certainly just as possible that my kid is the bad influence, that somewhere in town tonight there is another set of parents listening to their child blame mine for a note sent home or an e-mail from their teacher.
I know that I’m trying my best to raise the kind of kid that most parents would want their children to be friends with and also know that at some point who she’s hanging around with will determine that just as much as anything that I’m doing.
I also want to raise the kind of kid who is able to recognize those that she doesn’t need to be friends with. One who realizes that you don’t need to like everybody and even more importantly realizes that you don’t need everybody to like you.
Sometimes you just need to be able to fake it.