The other day, Brailey came home a tiny bit worried. Turns out one of her newly established good friends was upset that Brailey is branching out and making other friends. As Brailey told me the situation, I found myself feeling two things. One, I was sad for her to have to go through the experience. Two, I was extremely proud of her and downright impressed with how well she handled the situation. In fact, she couldn't have handled it any better! She didn't get rattled or insecure or take the issue on as her own. I am so grateful she is such a mature young lady. I would have fallen apart in her shoes. I would have been devastated. I would have worried myself sick. Brailey was kind, confident and a little worried, but not terribly.
This got me thinking about all the different kinds of friendships there are. There are so many! There are best friends (I have three! Kimmy, my mom and Brady!), phony friends, true friends, life-long friends, selfish friends, generous friends, needy friends, loving friends, friends that aren't really friends, friends of friends, Facebook friends, old friends, new friends, school friends, work friends, real friends, pretend friends, boy friends, girl friends and friends, friends, friends, friends, FRIENDS! I have experienced all of these and more. I'm sure you have, too! I've probably even been all of these friends at some point in my life... (Gasp!)
Somebody said to me the other day that love is messy. If you merely "like" something, it isn't so hard to let it go, but if you "love" something or someone, it is much more difficult and, yes, messy. Friendships are like this, as well, depending on the kind. I think I am blessed with some of the most wonderful friends in the world! I love my friends. I love them dearly! And yet I still manage to get my feelings hurt on occasion and deal with the very issues Brailey is just beginning to experience. Messy... I recently had one friend publicly embarrass me and talk to me in a condescending and demeaning manner, as if I were and most idiotic of all idiots. (The lesson here is that she wasn't the friend I thought she was, which does, in fact, make me an idiot.) I have another friend who pretends to be my friend, but can barely force herself to look me in the eye. I still feel I am richly blessed in the friendship department. I know life isn't fair nor is it perfect, but I still wish I could protect both of my children from the harsh realities of friendship. Friendship is not always fun and games. Or rather, sometimes it is games. The games people play, at least.
I remember being broken-hearted as a freshman in high school after someone I thought was my friend humiliated me (she made me push a quarter across the floor with my nose - she was a senior, so I thought I had to do it). My Aunt Renee gave me advice I have never forgotten. As I sat there crying in front of her, she said, "Let me tell you something. If you have even ONE GOOD FRIEND in your lifetime, count yourself lucky. If you have TWO, count yourself really lucky. Your friends are going to change your entire life, and if you end up with even one really good one, then you are lucky and blessed." My Aunt Renee is a wise woman.
I have learned so much about friendship over the years. Even today, I am still learning. I shared some of this with Brailey, hoping it would help her know friendship drama is normal and she isn't alone. Even though she really didn't need any help. But I can tell she is a bit unsettled, now, and she doesn't trust her new friend as much as she did.
I have friends I have had forever, the kind I can see and pick up right where we left off. These are special friendships. Distance is the only thing that keeps us from being together more often. The rare times we are together are precious, though, and I always come away feeling good after those visits. I have come to learn it is important to make time to nurture the friendships I care about. Everyone is busy, but it is incredibly important to make time for people who are special. After all, in the grand scheme of things, what is one hour every now and then? Time well spent, that's what.
To tell the truth, I see a lot of me in Brailey, and I wonder how she learned to protect herself so well. I didn't know how to protect myself as a kid. As a result, today I keep most people at arm's length. There are only a handful of people I really trust. Many times the protective armor I wear has caused criticism to come my way. As a matter of fact, it has caused a great deal of stress throughout my life. But it isn't really something I can help. It started the night my aunt gave me advice about friends, I think. I know I am not a perfect friend and I do stupid things and hurt people, sometimes. I think I've become a better friend as I've gotten older. I do know that I am not the perfect friend, though. Don't think I don't know that! I'm always a work in progress. Aren't we all?
Britt has had his share of friendship strife, lately, as well. Someone he thought was a good friend turned out to be a bully, playing power trips and even going so far as kicking him hard in the shin. To his credit, when this happened, Britt also made me very proud. He didn't get mad. He simply explained that it hurt, A LOT, and it was going to bruise. Britt is more naive than Brailey, though, and I have had to explain to him that he doesn't need to let people treat him that way. It is true that boys and girls are different, but I think boys can be just as mean as girls. Britt is more of a people-pleaser than Brailey is, and he doesn't have that protective shield Brailey has. It makes me wonder if he will develop it over time.
Lately, my little B's have become friends to me. Brailey has even given me advice! I try to listen to what they say, because I know I can learn from it, and I know our relationships are changing as they grow older. I remember feeling like my parents were my friends when I was a teenager, and I hope that is how my B's will feel about Brady and I. Because friendship is important, and that's a fact. One of the blessings I am most thankful for is the friendship Brailey and Britt have with each other. They are best friends! Even though they don't fully understand it or realize it today, I know they will appreciate and depend on it someday.
It will be interesting, for lack of a better word, to see how things play out over their lifetimes. I know they both have hurt coming their way, that it is part of life. I'm thankful they seem to have more skills than I did as a kid. And while I know they are in for some friendship drama, I hope it is minimal. I hope they know there are all kinds of kinds of friends.
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