One day, my children will question my best intentions for them--probably over my HELL-NO refusal to let them attend (the equivalent of) a Flo Rida concert alone at the age of 13, with the girls wearing a pair of hot pants with the word "Juicy" embroidered across their haunches. Love doesn't feel like a curfew, or a chastity belt, or even common sense (for goodness sake), particularly when they are too young to understand that getting roofied isn't in their best, long-term interests. But one day I KNOW they will understand the love language of cutting Halloween cats out of cookie dough; not that it is sweet and pretty looking, but that the damn tail on that cat is a son-of-a-bitch to keep attached, and I yet, I KEPT AT IT. For you, sweetheart. Love isn't the furry, lap-dog guinea pig; it's picking the poop out of it's pen everyday.
Of course, I will have to wait years for my daughters to understand the depth of my love, and how I will do anything to grow and strengthen them--I will bake seven dozen sugar cookies and teach myself how to make spiderwebs with icing, and then bake ANOTHER two dozen cookies when we get FIVE last minute RSVPs to our gathering. If I am responsible for switching G's schools twice in the past year, then it is important to me that I help her to make friends. That I encourage her. That I show her that making friends is hard work, but worth every bit of effort. I know that she will think this is easy, that it's my job as her mother--until she has a baby of her very own, and in the process, her lady bits stretch farther than she ever would have imagined. In that moment, she will know what it is like to do EVERYTHING for that baby without reservation, including pooping on a delivery table with a spot light focused on her ever expanding vagina.
Now. Some of you will wonder WHY I went through the effort of baking 16 dozen cookies and four shades of Halloween-themed frosting, instead of, say, a simple playdate? Well, that kind of neurosis is sort of my trademark, FYI. But also--the older we get, the LESS TIME there seems to be for playdates. And since we really only know one girl in G's class well, I am sort of morally opposed to just choosing/encouraging potential friends for G based on who I think they are or what I think I know about them. It pretty much goes against everything I believe in. I'm pretty set on encouraging G to be friends with ALL--and well, I'm not sure how she'll learn that, if I don't practice what I preach. So we invited all the girls in her class, and a couple that I know she has mentioned from other classes; and yes, it was more work, but making intentional friendships IS not easy. Best to learn that lesson while she's young.
I also could have invited the class over and just let them play--but this is a GIGANTIC wild card. With a group that big, girls who are friends will tend to gravitate toward each other. If you have dominant personalities, or girls that clash, then this little exercise in friendship building is not as much fun and it becomes all about managing. I am also a firm believer in a shared bonding activity, and as I am ILL EQUIPPED to organize a kickball tournament--fabric pumpkins it is.
Yes. I could sit back and let her navigate a new school and new friends all on her own--and I mostly do, because I can't be with her for those 6.5 hours at school. She's made a really good friend that we both adore, and so I know she's in a good place and not crying miserably in a corner at recess. But sometimes I think being comfortable is like wearing a set of blinders; and I hope (HOPE) I'm training G to see the whole picture, of who is hurt, or left out, or NEW. Because fourth grade girls don't really understand how hard it is to be in a new school--when you're comfortable you don't ever see it, unless you are purposefully looking for it.
I hope for my kids to have great friends, wherever they are. And mostly, when you're a kid, they just happen. You find friends who play the same sports, or love the same things, or sit next to you in English class. You go to college, and you pledge the same sorority, or live in the same dorm. But eventually, you have to start life in the big, wide world that is full of people that are different than you--and in the absence of a study group, or a sports team, it gets harder and harder to connect with others. Eventually, it takes more work, and I've watched plenty of women grow insecure and a little bit disillusioned with how hard it really is; how vulnerable it feels to make friends without the familiar, the shared history, the daily routine, the things that keep us COMFORTABLE, to pull us all together. Add in marriage, the demands of a job, the sleeplessness of parenting and ALL the insecurities that come with raising little humans--and well, it's kind of a wonder that we don't all hibernate like hermits in dark caves.
When she's there, I hope she remembers to invite other women into her life. To send an email to 15 women she barely knows, and to organize the adult equivalent of a cookie decorating party--Happy Hour.