It must be a new learned skill – an endearing one – picked up at kindergarten. “Let’s be friends!”
She talks about her schoolmates, their personalities, what they do and what they say. She filters nothing. Sometimes she says: “what does this mean?” Some of my friends in California would say: “that’s public school for you” – but in reality that’s what it is. And I make the best of it.
A few weeks ago she started asking me if I want to be her friend. Such honor! She was sweet and made me feel liked and important. Without hesitation I would say yes. I like to be her friend. But up to a point, when being her friend interferes with being her mom. Or maybe if I keep my cool, teaching her that a true friend speaks uncomfortable truths or does the right thing regardless of how uncool it is. One time when she didn’t like my resolution as a parent she got all grumpy, crossed her arms and said: “you are not my friend”. I gave space and kept on my tracks. But the truth is, as a friend I don’t push in. I give my friends space. I let them reconsider and come towards me when they feel it’s time. Some friendships where short lived. Some friends were exhausting, and some were selfish. I had only three close friends in high-school, and I still hold them dear in my heart and in my memories. But as for befriending my daughter – I think it’s a trap. I am her mom, available, forgiving, confidant, resilient… but something in my gut tells me to steer clear from trying to be her friend. When she is getting ready to enter adulthood, when she deals personally with the consequences of her choices and slowly becomes financially independent… if she’ll have me, I’d love to be her friend. Until then, my main responsibility is to be her rock, her parent that makes her feel safe, that keeps her safe.
This seven week course I took: “the cycle of security” talks about meeting the needs of our children whenever possible and taking control whenever is necessary. A friend advises, supports, has fun with you… but doesn’t take control whenever necessary. A parent does!
So last time she asked me, out of habit, because we were having such a grand time playing, if I want to me her friend, I answered no kindly. She didn’t expect my answer, but I offered her the better alternative. I told her I am not her friend but I am her mommy who loves her greatly no matter what and wants what’s best for her. She didn’t contradict me or correct me. She just pondered my answer and we continued playing. I think it’s still sinking in.