Thursday, January 2, 2014

Friendships, Mine and Theirs

I've never been especially good at friendships. That is, I've never had a whole host of friends from which to choose. I know a fair number of people and can have conversations with them. I can hang at a party. But for the most part, I keep track of only a few people and, through a combination of laziness and a tendency toward solitude, I let friendships drift.

I'm about to write an apology or explanation for this behavior, but I'll fight that urge.

My intention isn't to be rude or to minimize the importance of friendships. I'm just not great at keeping an army of friends. I know people who are good at this and I respect that quality. I have, for years, tried to find ways to emulate those people, but it hasn't worked out. I'm just not that guy. And that's okay. I'm this guy. The one typing on his computer listening to Herbie Hancock. Alone.

Things are more complicated by my being a member of a family, especially when it comes to the kids. While I'm more and more comfortable with my friendships and acquaintances, it is difficult to be as at ease about their situations. Both of our girls have friends from school. They have known many of them since kindergarten or earlier. They see them in class, after school, on the soccer field, at dance class, and so on. But there are times when it feels that things shift. This friend no longer calls or hasn't answered any calls. That friend seems reluctant to come over or invite our kid over to their house. Things feel distant. Something seems wrong.

Coping with this is much more difficult. If someone has a problem with me, I can choose to engage or disengage with them. It's not as easy as that makes it sound, but it is up to me and there's no need to negotiate much. With the kids, there are so many unknowns. Too many.

I can get into some of it, but not too much. I don't want to leave my daughters completely on their own, but I have to let them find their way. If a kid's parent is my friend also, then maybe I'll ask, what's up? For the most part, I have to trust in my kids, talk with them, and make sure that they know how to take care of themselves. It's not my job to fix these things. My job is to teach them how to fix it themselves.

There's a balance there, however, between how much to get involved and how far to stay away. I haven't got that balance figured. I'm flailing my arms on the beam just trying to walk across, let alone do any kind of cartwheel. I wish that my kids had it all figured out already at ten and twelve years old. That way, maybe they could teach me how all this is supposed to work. I sure could use the lesson.

Until they get around to it, my only thoughts are to keep going, be open and aware, and write on.