With Friends Like These

28 Mar

When I was a teenager, I fell in with a bad crowd. Cognizant that some of my loyal readers were friends of mine when I was a teenager, I should immediately state, “I’m not talking about you.” It is most likely that none of the bad crowd with which I fell in are regular readers of Snide Reply. I suspect one or two may not be regular readers of anything, but that is neither here nor there. My parents felt it their duty to point out that I had fallen in with said crowd and to do all they could to discourage further falling.

Though I don’t necessarily believe it, apparently the crowds children fall into these days are even badder—in the bad sense of bad—than those I encountered. There was binge drinking when I was a teen, there was sex when I was a teen, there were drugs when I was a teen. (Again, my high school buddies, I am not talking about you. Oh, OK, I am but I’m not telling who did what or with whom.) The drinking, the drugs and the sex are all bad enough and I’ve worried about my kids doing them since probably a day or two after they started kindergarten. I don’t need to think about worse vices my children may be pressured to try.

Now that I own a teenager, my parental friend radar has been tuned to high gear. It’s a wonder my son hasn’t noticed the brain hum in the background. Every time a new name is mentioned, my “who the hell is that” button gets switched. I try to be nonchalant as I grill my son.

“Fred?” I’ll say, “I don’t think I’ve heard you mention a ‘Fred’ before.”

“He’s a friend,” my son will say.

“Well, duh!” I think.

“Well, duh,” I say. “Where did you meet him? Is he in one of your classes? Does he drink, do drugs or have unprotected sex? Is he a member of a weird religious cult?” Well, maybe I don’t say that last bit, but it’s only because I know that’s not an appropriate thing for a parent to say outside of her head.

As if worrying about new friends weren’t enough, I’ve discovered old friends can go bad.

We moved to Naperville just as our son was entering fourth grade. He spent his entire first year here friendless. Oh, we made sure he saw his Oak Park friends and installed a phone line in his room so he could call them whenever he liked. Still, fourth grade was tough. In fifth grade, he made friends with a very nice boy. So, he had a friend. One friend.

Middle school started out miserably, friend-wise. Our son was placed into the gifted program; his one friend wasn’t. Friend ground zero all over again. But, having found his tribe, he started making friends more easily. Eventually, he had a bunch of friends.

All of his friends, at least all that I’ve met and I’ve met quite a few, appeared to be fine young people. I might have written, “appear to be fine young people” but recent events necessitate a change in verb tense. One of those fine young people has turned out to be quite a . . .hm. . . what’s the word . . .well, it rhymes with “spit head.”

Spit Head has twice, in the last month, hurt my son’s feelings deeply. The first time, Spit Head convinced my son that he was over-reacting. I wanted to give Spit Head a good talking to, but held my tongue. If my son wanted to remain friends with Spit Head, then I needed to let him do it, I reasoned.

The second time Spit Head hurt my son, Spit Head’s mother got involved. Now, before you think that she was telling Spit Head he was behaving badly, stop yourself. Spit Head’s mother was proving the old apple falling from the tree thing. Surprisingly, my son has dealt with Spit Head’s latest antic much more calmly than me. “He’s a douche,” he said. “He’s a douche,” one of his other friends agreed. Then, they moved on.

Me? I never want to see the kid again. And I if I ever see his mother? Well, let’s just say Naperville is gonna look a little bit more like the Jersey Shore that day.

My daughter is having friend troubles but it wasn’t her feelings that were being hurt. Instead, my daughter is the grand prize in a battle for affections that is largely waged by a gang of siblings we’ll call “The Delightful Children” with all due credit to “Code Name: Kids Next Door.”

The Delightful Children include two brothers and their younger sister. She adores my daughter, who I’m sure she sees as a big sister substitute. Problem? The Delightful Children seem intent on breaking my daughter’s considerable bond to her Best Friend.

My daughter plays with Best Friend nearly every day. They can play together for hours on end. In the winter months, things are fairly quiet on the friend front. The Delightful Children are, for some reason, not allowed to play in other people’s houses. So my daughter and Best Friend trash, I mean, “play” in our house. Sometimes they “play” in Best Friend’s house.

In the summer, the wars begin. The Delightful Children have one of those redwood things with a playhouse on top. The monstrosity is nestled in the branches of willow tree so the playhouse is hidden from sight. I believe the tree may be a Whomping Willow because, invariably, Best Friend rushes home from the playhouse in tears. It being illegal to water board children, we’ll probably never know the details of what ensues in the Playhouse of Pain but it seems to involve harsh words from The Delightful Children toward Best Friend.

My daughter recently wailed, “It’s like I’m being forced to choose between hurting my Best Friend and hurting a little girl!” My little girl being the one getting hurt, I decided to lay down a law. No playing with Best Friend and The Delightful children together. My husband reports the law is being respected with unexpected results. Recently, Best Friend and The Delightful children played together while my daughter practiced gymnastics in the family room.

I figured we were finished with friend issues for a while until my son started a conversation like this, “Well, I was talking with one of my pothead friends . . .”

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6 Responses to “With Friends Like These”

  1. Bobbi Meier March 28, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    oops!

  2. anjobanjo22 April 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Some children can truly be so mean can’t they? It’s awful. We’re dealing with it right now with our son. Hopefully I can stay calm and not tell a parent a piece of my mind! 😛

    By the way…

    Congratulations! I just awarded you with the Versatile Blogger Award (it’s a fun little award passed around within the blogging community). Here’s the shortlink: http://wp.me/p15O7Y-8x.

    I look forward to the many great posts to come! 🙂

    • jmlindy422 April 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

      Wow! Cool! Thanks. I’m going to have to think about this and figure out who to “tag”.

  3. acleansurface April 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    Your children sound interesting. Mine are interesting, too, in different ways. Parenthood is always an adventure.

    • jmlindy422 April 24, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      My children are, indeed, interesting and I am continually grateful for the blog fodder they provide.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Snide Reply - September 26, 2011

    […] jealous, too. But, I haven’t taken a serious trip to Funky Town in a while. My son is ok with “Spithead” and no one has puked around here lately. My kids are still pikers when it comes to sibling […]

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