Frenemies

Of course I wanted a girl...

My daughter asked me yesterday, as she was biting into her fancy overpriced vegan lemon cupcake, "Mama, you've never told me the story about the time you found out that I was a girl." There are infinite things parents choose to minimize, or simply state in the glossiest way possible- in order to avoid a more involved conversation our kiddos may not be ready for. This was one such topic. Of course I wanted a girl. I had daydreamed numerous times about the clothes, the dolls, sharing chick flick sobs, and a deep understanding for the importance of cookie dough. That was the sparkly version of parenting a girl. The truth is, I was utterly terrified. During my pregnancy, I was confined to bedrest, and there was little to do but crochet, journal, and watch cable TV that landed on Lifetime more often than I would like to admit. This was around 2004, and there was a slew of movies dedicated to the perils of a teenage girl. Whether it was lipstick parties (I had to look it up) or cyberbullying, it appeared my daughter would be facing a different world than I had. Many of my teen worries were centered around the right lip liner, or avoiding injury in a mosh pit when Gravel Truck played at the dance. There was a science to it.

I can't clothe her entirely in bubble wrap...

What could I possibly do to protect this tiny person from all the many slings and arrows society would throw at her? The truth is I can't clothe her entirely in bubble wrap (I'm still considering it). When she leaves the house, I have to trust that she is in safe hands- with a good head on her shoulders. There is one problem. She's my kid. Because of this, she has inherited this deep desire to befriend everyone. Even if they don't deserve it. One part of being a tiny girl shaped human, is that there are other girls with egos, insecurity, and malicious plots to destroy her fragile self-esteem in the blink of an eye. Enter tween years. Ugh. Charlotte would literally be everyone's best friend, (except boys, they're gross) if people would let her. She has the purest intentions. This is not always received with reciprocity. Last week, Little Miss came home from daycare to report that a girl she has been trying to befriend for literally two years, has (again) told her that no one likes her, and she doesn't want to play with her. Sigh. Her little heart was bleeding onto the sidewalk with her big fat feelings. So began the talk about mean girls. They're everywhere. One of Charlotte's closest friends Rhiannon, goes to a different school, and has shed oodles of tears over mean girls this year as well. I've been so thankful that Charlotte has a friend that totally "gets it." They have enjoyed a safe haven in each other over the last years. No one knows why this whole "mean girl" phenomenon has persisted over time. I suspect there may be an evolutionary purpose to this torture, but I have yet to identify it. The worst part? It doesn't get better when you grow up. Mean girls become mean women, and they are out for blood. 

 Rhiannon and Charlotte at Art in the Park. Check out her mama's blog,  Bangs are better than Botox.

Rhiannon and Charlotte at Art in the Park. Check out her mama's blog, Bangs are better than Botox.

Learn to cut those suckers loose...

The term frenemy is genius. I don't know who came up with it, but I thank you. You managed to marry these words beautifully to describe a dynamic that can be excruciating to navigate. Of course, my hope is that all women find boundaries, and eventually learn to cut these suckers loose. It's not as easy as it sounds. How do you know if someone is a frenemy? Let me break it down for you. It goes a little something like this:

You're always a little unsure if you were just insulted...

  • A woman that acts like a friend to your face. "OMG! I totally love your outfit! Is that new?Seriously, you look amazing!" While some of this can be sincere, the ones that give you a gritty fake aftertaste, are frenemy bound.
  • A woman that gossips about other people in front of you. This is a biggie for me. If you gossip to me, you will gossip about me.
  • A woman that is a huge flake. Every interaction with her is- "We totally have to get together soon! I'll call you next weekend and we'll have coffee!" But she never follows through. This alone, is not a frenemy. This would be the sprinkles on the metaphorical cupcake of of the frenemy.
  • A passive aggressive woman. These are sneaky, because you're always a little unsure if you were just insulted. "You know what is so amazing about you? You carry weight really well. Some girls your size just can't pull it off, but you rock it." Oh, go eat a sandwich.
  • They go from loving you, to hating you, then back to loving you. You would think that breaking up with a friend isn't a thing. It is. She deletes you off of facebook because she took a text emoji wrong. Weeks later, runs into you and is totally over it, like nothing happened. Of course during this time she has blacklisted you to everyone she ever met, but you get another friend invite anyway. Stop the insanity.
 The ultimate frenemy movie:  Heathers .

The ultimate frenemy movie: Heathers.

She will always feel threatened by you...

In my 20's I was a little co-dependent. I hoped that if I tried harder, these frenemies would take me into their fold, and I would be good enough. The truth is that no one is good enough for the frenemy. She will always feel threatened by you, and always show her insecurity through defensive backlash behavior. This took me a lifetime to understand. What a freeing experience! I've got this thing down. Looking into my daughter's tear-stained face, I gave her the best piece of advice I could muster. You should never have to convince someone to be your friend. If someone lists all the reasons you aren't good enough, walk away. There happens to be an endless supply of good souls out there, just ripe for the friending. Don't waste a moment on a sour, and sad mistress of manipulation. 

I hope that I can provide an example to my tender-hearted child, that so easily radiates trust. I would like to see her future littered with just enough wisdom to make her colorful, but not scarred. I hope she finds the nice quirky girls, instead of toddling behind the plastic ones vying for any scrap of attention. May she stand on her two strong feet, rooted with confidence in her own voice, and innate worth. That is my wish for this girl.