Big has a frenemy. She doesn't understand it at all,but I sure do. Resisting the urge to grab the kid by the face and hiss something terrifying in the kid's tiny pink ear ( as my mother did on one occasion when my sister was small),I smile stiffly in the kid's presence and kill with mock kindness. The oddest part is Big's insistence on engaging,despite the unhappy outcome. I tell her all of the tired old advice from my youth-"ignore them", "stay away from them"," it's their problem". I even suggested that she pretend she can't hear the kid in the hope that the child would be reduced to screaming the offending words and be overheard by the parent so perhaps it would stop. Big thought it was a funny idea but won't try it.She is almost too curious still about why the meanness is happening. Perhaps her self esteem is so high that she truly can't fathom how the child isn't enthralled by her.
I found this to be of interest:
"Aristotle distinguishes between three kinds of friendship. The first is based on utility; one person is friends with another because the other is useful to him. The second is based on pleasure; one is friends with the other because the other provides pleasure. The third is based on the good, however in this case one is not friends with the other for his own gain or desire. Instead, one wants what is best for his friend. The third friendship is qualitatively different than the first two. The other kinds of friendship are fundamentally selfish and fleeting: once the utility or the pleasure is gone, the friendship is dissolved. Friendship based in the good, on the other hand, is far more stable."
Having experienced all three types of the relationships he describes, I do prefer number three. I have had the girlfriends who take advantage, or suck the life out of you with their drama. I have had the girlfriends who only want to hangout when your are flush or famous. I don't need any if it anymore.I'd rather be alone.
I have a handful of friends that I cultivated in my twenties and thirties that gradually moved away or drifted away.I can always pick up the phone and call a couple of them, and it is as if they never left.Three thousand miles is a long distance, but a real friendship can survive it indefinitely.
At the ripe old age of forty, I can safely say that I finally have the sense to know who is a real friend and who is classified as other.I have no actual enemies that I am aware of,unless Anonymous, from a few posts back, is busily assasinating my character for my less than appreciative reply to his/her comment.. I now have, in large part thanks to my kids, a few marvelous newish friends who are, as a whole, incredibly self-effacing, honest, funny, introspective, beautiful, widly creative,intelligent,like long walks on the beach, snuggling in the rain, white zinfandel and George Winston records. But, really, their attributes do read like a personal add.
A true friend is someone who is happy for your success,monetary and otherwise, and who doesn't secretly derive pleasure from your failures. This is nearly impossible to find in our modern screwed up world. I seem to have found a healthy handful who don't blanche, trump or denigrate when I share good news and don't smirk,relish or simply run away when I share bad news. I have girlfriends who appreciate my kids, praise their good qualities and politely ignore their not so good qualities. They trust that I have it under control and don't feel the need to give me a bunch of unsolicited advice. I have girlfriends who don't suggest I drop a few pounds,or tell me never to wear that shade of lipstick. I have girlfriends who will listen to my rants about this or that and advise without an agenda, empathize without usurping the issue,and strategize with great diplomacy and tact. I made the mistake, years ago, of telling a girlfriend what I really thought of her recently exed boyfriend.She rekindled within the week and never forgave me. I was trying to be honest because I thought she deserved someone better. Honesty is important, but it isn't that simple. True friendship is knowing the person well enough to know how what you have to say will affect them.
My desire is that Big will learn by osmosis, and routinely shed the frenmies and the girls that make her feel less than stellar. I hope she can look to my relationships with women and see that it is a lot more fun to hang with the smart goofy chicks who don't give a shit about having a Birken bag than trying to play the unwinnable game of who has the coolest stuff. I made a conscious choice in eighth grade to walk away from the group I had been with for two years, the group that spent lunch drinking Diet Coke and comparing cup sizes. All they talked about was who was prettier,thinner,had better clothes.Boring.Excruciating, in fact,since I was never even a contender in their limited scope of things.I should probably thank them for their short sighted obvservations because it forced me to make a decision. One lunch period, I got up and walked across the lawn to where the slightly awkward, smart, shy girls were sitting, unadorned, in their off brand clothes and gladly joined their ranks.
I have decided that the only girlfriends I want are the ones that make me feel like my best self.
So far, so good. I only hope I can give back in kind.