Making friends

September 14, 2010 at 11:29 am (AJ, Parenthood, PJ)

Grade school marks a big change in making friends.  In preschool, my kids were friends with my friends’ kids.  In grade school, they make friends who have parents I don’t know.  Who may or may not have similar parenting philosophies.  I may not even know the child himself.  I don’t know how I feel about that. 

On the one hand I generally think diversity is good- if my kids are exposed to different ways of dealing with conflict or serving a snack at a friend’s house, they can learn new ways to do things.  And see what doesn’t work if they end up watching a friend get yelled at.  But, does it really work that way?  At six, are they discriminating enough to take the good and throw out the bad?  I’m not so sure about that.

In any given room of kids, Parker will find the silliest and most exuberant kids (besides himself, that is) and go talk to them.  It doesn’t really matter to Parker if that child was planning on gaining a new friend that day.  He has absolutely no social awkwardness.  According to him, if he wants you to be your friend you will be.  Never mind that this is the complete opposite of the way I think.  I’ve known people I really would’ve liked to be friends with but have no idea how to approach.  I could take a lesson from Parker- the approach doesn’t always matter- you just do it.  At any rate, Parker’s chosen friends in kindergarten were not, shall we say, the teacher’s pet type.  More like they were the kids that the teacher goes home saying, “I’d have such a great class this year if I didn’t have to deal with ____.”

I was surprised last year in kindergarten that some of those frustrating kids actually do have great parents.  See how judgmental parents can be- including myself?

Auden seems to have fallen a little closer to his mother’s tree in the making friends department.  As best I can gather, the friends he made last year chose him.  One was a domineering young lady who told him one day she was his girlfriend.  This was in February.  He spent more time making her Valentine than the rest of the class combined.  A week after Febrary 14th I found all the Valentines he’d made, hidden in his room.  Upon delicate questioning, I extricated the story- he’d been embarrassed to give his “girlfriend” the Valentine, so he left them all in his backpack.  A few weeks later when told him she was no longer his girlfriend, he faked sick because he no longer had anybody to play with at recess.  Broke his mama’s heart, the whole situation.

I didn’t actually start out this post to talk about my children’s possible friend hiccups, though.  Or the lack of control I have over the choosing of said friends.  All I can do there is trust they’re smart and they’ll learn from their experiences.  I meant to discuss my potential hiccups with their friends and parents of their friends.  I have to say, dealing with calling one of their friend’s parents for a playdate fills me with dread.  Will they think it’s weird for me to invite their child to my house without knowing me first?  Should I invite them to meet us at the park first?  Will they want to spend their time standing at a park making small talk with me?  I’m not even at school to know the relationship between the kids.  Does their kid even like my kid?  Do I want this kid to like my kid?

I can’t be the only one that doesn’t know “the rules” here.  At what age do you switch to letting the kids talk on the phone to arrange a get-together?  I have to say my kids are still blissfully ignorant of the ins and outs of phone conversation, and that’s mostly fine with me.  I don’t need them begging for a cell phone yet.  I know they know our phone number, but I don’t know that they would actually know how to dial and call us if they needed to.  They also don’t have a full grasp of calendaring and what days they might be free.  For now I know I need to take care of the details. 

At some age that I don’t want to even think about, I suppose one lets their children visit homes of friends they haven’t met, let alone the parents.  But what age is this?  Ten, twelve, twenty-three?  No idea.  Obviously it can be whatever we’re comfortable with, at least until our kids are legal adults.  But I also worry if I’m too comfortable with letting my kids go, I’ll be judged not protective enough.  Am I overthinking this?

A good part of my anxiety goes back to my own troubles with making friends.  Parker begs me, over and over, until we call people who I’m pretty sure don’t want to get together with us.  I HATE feeling like I’m trying too hard to make friends- my uncool middle school self.  So I waffle and deflect his requests and explain I’m waiting for them to reciprocate the last playdate months ago and generally make excuses.  Like my former neighbors, for example.  Parker idolized their kid, who’s eighteen months older than him.  This kid thought Parker was okay when he used to live across the street and was convenient, but now that they live miles away, I don’t think he cares.  When they’ve come back to check on the house (they rented it out), the kid hasn’t barely responded to Parker’s excited greetings yelled across the street.  Parker has yet to notice that fact, though, and keeps asking when he’s going to come over.  Parker came home from the second day of school and wanted me to call the friend he’d made that day.  Um, no honey, I’m not psyched up to do that yet.  And just how would we find the phone number of one of the thousand Jacob’s at XYZ Elementary?

If you’re into labels, it’s probably obvious here.  Parker is an extrovert, his mama and dad, and his twin are introverts.  He gets misunderstood sometimes here at the JaRuud household.  One definition is that an extrovert get “recharged” in life by spending time with people, and an introvert recharges by spending time alone.  He’ll have to put up with us, and drag us kicking and screaming into having a social life.  It’s good for us.

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t know how you do it « JaRuuds said,

    […] I had a damn good week.  I was helpful to others, had some good times with the kiddos, put myself out on a limb and arranged a playdate for my sons, cleaned out a couple closets, and did make pumpkin muffins but […]

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