Children and Friends. Bad Idea.
Today we are writing about friends and children. We’ll give you the bottom right up front. Children shouldn’t have friends because friends are a pain in the ass for parents. Ok, maybe that is not totally true. Oh wait, yes it is.
Paul says: In case you haven’t read our stuff before, Lee and I have three children; Jeannie, 16, Bobby, 5, and Ricky, terrible 2. So the concept of friendship as it applies to our kids is a huge and diverse topic. Just to be clear, we are not friends with our children. We are their parents. If you are expecting to read about how you and your children can be best of buds then you came to the wrong place. Parents and children, at least before adulthood, should not be friends. It convolutes the boundaries.
And healthy friendship is all about boundaries. So let’s look at my three kids as developmental stages. Ricky does not know anything about friendship. Any knew child that comes into his perimeter is a novelty, a flesh toy to be used until discarded. He is at the Machiavellian age were his existence is all about him and how things effect his level of fun. This is the age that I’m trying to get back to but people keep calling me a sociopath. I don’t know why.
Bobby is the almost perfect antithesis. Everybody is his friend; cousins, adults, stuffed animals, Dora the Explorer, a frog. If it can make eye contact, it can be a friend. It is at Bobby’s age that the ‘I don’t like my kid having friends’ mantra alights on every momma bear and papa bear out there. It is infinitely hard to stand and watch as your child comes crying because his friend wronged him on the monkey bars then go running back for some more two seconds later. We understand that they need to develop their own boundaries, experimenting with their social environment and create their own little egos. But that does not change the fact that we want to take the brat that pushed our little angel and punch them in the medulla.
And it does not get any easier. Jeannie is a teenager. I hate, hate, hate teenagers having friends. Everything that a teenager’s friend says is wrong. Even when it is right, it is so well marinated in wrongness that the flavor is just a little off.
‘I am my own person, unique and independent’, my daughter might say and Lee and I would cheer her on.
Then my daughter would continue, ‘all of my friends are. That’s why we dress alike’. I grab my skull to prevent the aneurism and Lee just stares, open mouthed.
As a teenager, I do not remember making any sense, even to myself. As an adult listening to one, it is even more like having a debate with a schizophrenic. Friends just add to the delusion by allowing the youth to think that they make any sense at all.
Lee says: As Sci-Fi fans we have seen many a movie or TV show that uses the concept of Time Travel. The characters may use a machine or worm hole to get back but the warning is always the same: you can’t change the past. But what if you could? Any changes I would make to my past would be with the friends I chose especially as an adolescent and young adult.
So now I have a teenager who has blinders the size of buses on her face (and being that she can’t see to start out with that kind of doubly sucks). Should I tell her how things will work out like I am this Grecian oracle? Or should I have her go through the heartbreak and disillusionment of having a friend stomp all over her and steal her innocence?
I know what I choose. Ethics be damned! I’ll step on the fucking butterfly and I will tell her the truth. And of course she will stare at me with wide eyes wondering when I became so fucking crazy. It doesn’t matter anyway. Maybe they need to get knocked around to harden them for adulthood. And maybe, just maybe, the Morlocks will not win and Weena and George can live happily ever after. But that’s just in the movies.