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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Daily Chai Discusses Female Friendship

Today's chai was an unbirthday gift. Not only a gift, but a literary reference. Day made.

Kate texted me yesterday: Mommy can I talk too you it's ergint.

Five minutes later (the kid does not have a lot of patience): Mama please

So of course I get this message and I'm immediately worried something absolutely terrible has happened to my baby girl. Sadly, something has. Her very best friend has told a couple other kids that she hates Kate.

Oh crap.

Kate is in tears, but she's also mad. Her bestie has been a bit of a trial the past few months. She took over a dance Kate and two other little girls wanted to do for the talent show and told them their routine was stupid. She said if they were going to get into the talent show, they needed to do what she told them to do and if she wanted suggestions from them, she'd ask. And then, mom, then she made herself the STAR OF THE SHOW, OF COURSE [insert eye roll here]. This type of direction from the bestie went on for a couple weeks to the point that Kate did not want to try out for the talent show anymore and told me it wasn't fun which made her sad because when her bestie wasn't involved, she was having a great time with the other kids.

Another day, her bestie was playing with another kid and told that kid, "Let's make Kate jealous because we are playing together." I have to give Kate props here, she said, "I don't get that. I mean, it's okay for her to have other friends, she doesn't have to play with me all the time. I have other friends that I play with too. Why did she think I would be jealous if she played with someone else?"

Kate's friend has also been pretty bossy lately, even besides the dance routine and wants the kids to do what she wants them to do and gets mad and runs away when they don't listen.  Then she won't talk to Kate (or whoever the offending party is) for the rest of the afternoon and tells the other kids not to play with them either. "And mom, I do not have to do what she tells me to do. I am my own person, if I don't want to do what she tells me to do, I'm not going to." More props. That's my girl.

This, I know, is pretty typical kid stuff. I remember this type of thing from when I was that age. It's endless and dramatic and I know my kid is as dramatic as the rest of them and that there are three truths to every story, so who knows what things Kate has said to her best friend over the course of the year that's upset her in the same ways. I love my kid, but I'm not so deluded that I think she's up for a sainthood.

Yesterday, after hearing her bestie hates her, she'd had enough and she wanted to know what to do about this situation. This was my advice to her:

Number one is you can confront her and tell her that you heard she hates you and you're upset about it and want to know if it's true. If you kind of believe she said it and you care enough about her to fix the situation, you have to face her and ask her what's up. Then you can start talking about ways to change it and make your friendship better.

Number two is ignore the situation entirely and carry on as though you never heard she hates you and keep hanging out with her. This is a bit cowardly and probably not the best solution, but hey, you have two weeks left of school. If you never want to see her again when school ends, you don't have to.

Number three is you can decide this is not worth your time anymore and you can (tactfully and gently) break up with her. Tell her the reasons that you no longer want to be friends, they are valid reasons after all and things you don't need to put up with, especially from someone who you've said is your best friend above all others. That is a special title, reserved for the very best people in your life. Someone who treats you like crap, gets you in trouble, tries to make you jealous etc is not living up to that title.

I know, I know, you're shocked, aren't you? My advice to my nine year old was to break up with her bestie.

But there is this persistent and yet mythical idea that we are supposed to fight for our girlfriends tooth and nail and hold on to every friendship we have ever formed or we are failures as females and human beings. One simply does not give up on the BFF. But the truth is, female friendships are the same as opposite sex relationships and they can end for the same reasons.

Ending a friendship, especially a long one, or one that was once close, simply sucks and we may shed as many tears for a girlfriend as some boy (truth be told, probably more). But the sad truth is, friendships end and it's normal and it doesn't make you a bad person or a failure. It doesn't make your friend a bad person or a failure. But holding on to someone that makes you feel like shit is not healthy and you'd be better off putting your energy into cultivating a friendships that enrich your life instead of dragging you down.

That being said however,  I think it's important to actually say the words, "I care about you, but I think it's time that we end our friendship." Ouch, right? But think about it, if you walk away and decide to never talk to that person again because you have had enough, you are the guy that just stops calling and your friend is the girl left wailing, "But what did I do WRONG??" There is no closure for either of you and there is no chance of reconciliation because walking away will leave feelings of confusion, anger, resentment and a whole lot of hurt. Telling them (again tactfully and gently and maybe not with a lot of gory detail) basically why you don't want to be friends can serve several purposes.

1) It gives them a chance to explain themselves if, perhaps, your reasons are based on a misunderstanding. This could possibly lead to fixing your friendship and saving something you once cherished. 

2) It gives you a chance to get some of your hurt off your chest and therefore get closure if you do walk away.

3) It gives them a chance to learn where they went wrong and possibly be a better friend in the future.

4) It gives them a chance to get some hurt off their chest about your past actions (because let's be honest, you aren't perfect and I'm sure you've done some shitty things too).

5) Which in turn gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes and be a better friend in the future.

6) It gives you both an ending point to move on from properly so you haven't just drifted away and left your once bestie with those feelings of confusion, anger, resentment and hurt.

Ending a friendship is crap. I've done it before and it sucked. But honestly, with some time and distance, I've come out on the other side as a better person and (I hope) a better friend. It doesn't have to be a bad thing and it can even be an opportunity for growth.

And now I am tired. Good night.


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