Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friends and Kids

When you become a mom, one of the things that keeps you sane is making friends with other moms. It gets even better if those friends have kids the same age as your own kids. I have been blessed many,many times with this scenario. But sometimes, it's not all play-dates and candy, you know?

Back when Nick was around 4, we made friends with a family who had a 4 year old son and we would get together all the time and play. The problem? Their 4 year old had a violent streak and when I found the boys out in the yard with Nick turning blue while this other child had his hands around his throat, we said bye-bye. Fast. Not all relationship troubles are this dramatic.

Did you ever just not LIKE someone's kid? Did you ever see the episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Ray and Debra make friends with this great couple but their son is completely out of control and makes Ray crazy? Admit it, we've all had one or two relationships just like that. Without wanting to lose the adult end of the relationship, what do you do? How can you be friends with someone when their child makes you completely insane? On Friday, I was with one such friend whose daughter just rubs me the wrong way. It has been that way since day one and I will tell you why...the child has no respect what-so-ever for the adults around her - not her parents, her grandparents, or other adults. Now, don't get me wrong, I KNOW that my children can grate on other people's nerves (they do on mine every day!), but I am sensitive to this fact and am a firm believer with kids playing with kids while adults hang out and talk to adults.

But back to Friday, I am with this family and wanted to speak to the mom privately for a moment and her pre-teen daughter automatically comes too. This is an everday occurance and she is told everyday to go away. I snapped. Literally and figuratively, I snapped. I said "This is a conversation between your mother and me. Not every conversation involves you!" I said it in front of other people and clearly I was in the wrong BUT, for crying out loud, why should it get to that point? Why, when you are told everyday NOT to do something, would you keep doing it? I don't get it! I understand that pre-teen is another word for completely clueless, but when is enough enough? Is there ever a good time to tell a friend "Hey, your kid is really and truly pissing me off." I had been pondering this conversation for quite a while when my friend approached me today to tell me how much it bothered her that I snapped at her child on Friday.

(Insert door of opportunity here)

So I listened to her end of the story and she was very gracious and let it be known that she was embarassed and upset by my outburst and that her daughter did not like me very much right now. Please, someone, grab the knife from my hand before I hurt myself! But seriously, She went on for about 5 minutes saying her peace and know me, I had mine. Nicely. So I was loud? HELLO! Anyone who knows me knows that I speak very loudly. I am the sounding bell at all of the homeschool meetings because no one is louder than me. So I said it in front of other people? Okay, that was wrong. But I told her all of the ways that this child disrespects ME and that I had been pushed to my limit. I apologized, I said that I would apologize to the child but then I said that I would expect an apology in return for this child's attitude. She's a 12 year old child, not a grown up and does not need to be involved in every adult conversation. If I am hanging out with their family, it is for the adult conversation - which we all need - not the toned-down, G-rated crap that has to be spoken when there is a child around! I do not inflict my children's presence on every adult that I sit down with. I don't think it's polite to the other adults and children need to realize that they are not our equals - yet. They are indeed, children.

So how did this whole afterschool special end? We're cool. We talked. The offensive child was not there so it was all said without interruption. We thought it was great that we could clear the air and I kind of feel like I need to remove myself from this child's presence for a little while - so that I do not offend.

Can you imagine?

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