How much time is required for adult people to become friends? Where is the threshold? When is it ok to go from waving and hellos at daycare pick up to invites to events, having coffee, to eventually “I’ve been around you long enough that I know you won’t judge me as a horrible person when my child inevitably reveals that she is a jerk sometimes.” ?
I don’t know the rule, but for me, it seems to be about two years.
My life recently is full of tears and crying.
I have two persistent alarm clocks that go off at 6am everyday demanding food. The cats will not be deterred. If they are on the other side of the door, then everyone wakes up at 6am with their insistent cries for some sort of recognition of their need. I used to throw pillows at them.
Now I get up.
I feed them.
I make coffee.
I walk around the house opening window blinds, and look at my street. I live in a garbage vortex. A literal vortex of garbage settles in my yard if there is even a small breeze because of the way my house is positioned next to the 9 unit brick condo building next door. So every morning I look at the trash from my neighborhood and imagine the person who selected that bag of Flamin’ Hot Fritos corn chips and the empty pack of Newports and find a place of calm. Between picking up after my own child, and now some other person’s grown child too…it is an exercise I practice often.
Starring at the garbage, while sipping my coffee, while the rest of my house is sleeping minus the two cats slurping their breakfast across the kitchen floor with their faces, I remember that this is the time where I can watch those videos of singing competitions where the child stars will sound so beautiful, and their acceptance to the next round so emotional, that I can’t help but get emotional too.
Or… the newest rendition of the mom commercial where the baby grows up/returns home from college/says something adorable that keeps the whole sleep-deprived-worry-loop going for a few more days/weeks/months.
I don’t have time to be emotional any other part of the day. So the mornings, from “Meow,” to THUMP THUMP THUMP, “Mom?” are when I let it out.
Cause I have be ready for the moment when this comes home with a full face of TEARS:
“Mom, I have too many friends and I can’t play with them all!...
“And I don’t want to share my show and tell toy…
“And I don’t think I should have to, because I’m not done with it so why would I just stop playing with something just because someone else wants the toy?...
“And why does (friend) say that I’m stupid because I can’t read?...He can’t do math, but I don’t tell him he is stupid…
“And (not-friend) hurts me everyday but there is never any proof, so I can’t tell on her, and she is NOT my friend… but she won’t stop following me!”
Unpacking the social life of a young child was definitely not in the parenting guidebook.
I don’t think you should have to share your toy either if you are still playing with it.
And, there are so many measurable and immeasurable paths to intelligence that not reading before kindergarten is not a sign that a child is stupid, nor is doing math skills above a particular grade level an indicator of the opposite!
And if someone is hurting you, why do you need proof before someone will listen to you?
And it is hard to manage life when you feel you can’t spend time with all of your friends!
I was surprised when not just one, but five of my people came to help me paint a room in my house after I asked for help.
I was surprised when they asked how I was and started crying and everything that is hard right now comes pouring out of my face.
I was surprised when they didn’t think less of me for showing such messy parts out in the open. (Was that the first time?)
I was surprised, and then I stopped being surprised and let the feelings of being nurtured take over.
At the end of the day, I shared a story about how getting through my daughter’s second year was troubling and demanding. It came from her “Big Feelings” we called them, and how through multiple failed parenting strategies, I finally realized that for her, her feelings needed to literally GET OUT OF HER through action and vocalization.
And I also learned, that when when this happens, after more failed attempts with alternate parenting options, I need to remain and remain engaged with her.
In short, she would have a “tantrum” and I would stay with her through it. Sometimes it meant holding her, sometimes it meant talking to her, sometimes it meant laying on the floor with her.
She would have feelings, and I would validate her feelings. Ya know. Like supportive people do.
Like this weekend, with my people. Painting and crying.
Written by A Swift Doula