Friendship and Failure

I used to think being a parent was fairly easy. Sure the whole 'there are living human beings dependent on me keeping them safe, healthy and alive' thing could be a little overwhelming, especially when I was responsible for this task mostly myself, but for the most part, it wasn't too hard to toss a handful of Cheerios at my hungry badgers and bark at them to look both ways before crossing the road.

Lately it seems the parenting stakes have raised and I'm completely unprepared for the new rules of this gig. Not only do I have to keep them safe and alive but now I'm responsible for keeping them out of the clink and out of the back seat of some bozo's car so that I'm not saddled with raising babies that belong to my babies.

Now that my children are teens, more than ever I'm responsible for setting the example of responsible humanity. I'm supposed to be modeling wise choices because in a few years these kids of mine will be on their own with nothing but the memories of the examples I have set to keep them from wearing an ankle monitor or begging for food stamps to feed their illegitimate children.

Parenting has always been about setting a good example and modeling wise choices but in the earlier years that usually just meant explaining why we don't stuff Lego pieces up our noses and why we put the milk jug back into the fridge so the milk won't spoil.

Now that my kids are almost adults it means teaching them how to avoid the pitfalls of peer pressure and how to succeed in a world that will largely unappreciate them. The weight of this grown up blanket can smother the best intentions every parent has, because not only do I have to set these examples, but I have to explain them as well. I can't just get away with telling them "Because I'm your Mother and I said so."

I tried that but my children actually expect rational and logical thought processes to back up my reasoning.

This is what you get from spending over a decade of trying to teach them to think for themselves, dammit.

Not all of this is complicated as I tend to be a by the book, law-abiding citizen and my children happen to be quite intelligent (they get that from their father, thank heavens.) They model their behaviour after me and since I'm not a pill popping, booze swilling crack whore who has a predilection for grand theft auto or shoplifting, most of my work is fairly easy.

While I'm not (overly) worried about the obvious pitfalls of parenting, I am extremely concerned about the more subtle perils of ushering these children into adulthood.

More specifically, I'm worried about modeling social behaviours for my daughter as of late. Fric is a mini-me. Not only does she look like me, but she is a pint sized newer model of Tanis. It's scary how similar our thought processes are and how our emotions run parallel to one another.

(Frac on the other hand is an entirely foreign beast, but that's a post for another day.)

While Fric kicks academic arse, excels at athletics and has impeccable fashion sense (she so does not get that from her yoga pant, cowboy hat wearing mother), much like me she is having trouble with her peer group.

While a lot of her social woes stem purely from the joys of puberty and aren't anything to be terribly concerned over, I wonder how much I'm to blame for her friendship woes. I haven't exactly set the bar all that high in the area of modeling healthy friendship choices.

Female friendships have always been a beast I've never been able to tame, even from a young age. I'm not terribly shy but I'm not exactly gregarious either. I tend to hold my affection close to my heart and I'm slow to let people into my world. I'm a loner by choice, one who prefers one solid friend than a network of friendly acquaintances.

To complicate matters, I bear vicious scars on my heart from female friendships gone wrong, which makes me more hesitant to seek out my own set of girlfriends. While Fric may witness my many phone calls to my bff, she seldom sees me interact with females I'm not related to.

The one true friend of mine my daughter actually interacted with and loved herself combusted in a spectacular fashion several years ago for reasons I myself don't understand or know and culminated in our family losing a child we were in the process of adopting when this woman knowingly filed a false allegation against me. The allegation was resolved, my name was cleared but the child was lost to our family.

It's been extremely challenging to swallow my bitterness about this black hole in my life and not bash this woman my children loved. But when Fric and Frac demanded an explanation of why my friend did this to all of us, words have continued to fail me. How can I explain such a betrayal to my children, when years later I'm still in the dark myself?

Now that my daughter is facing her own unique set of friendship challenges she is looking at me to give her answers. The only real answer I have is women tend to be a bunch of feral b!tches and I'm fairly certain my husband would muzzle me forever if I ever breathed that out loud to my daughter.

Instead, I shrug my shoulders and give her permission to talk endlessly about her friendship woes to me in hopes that perhaps I can find clues to both our problems. So far, I'm still sticking with the feral b!tch theory.

Conversely, my husband and my son have had the same set of friends since the moment they could whip their pickles out and pee on the grass by themselves and they never seem to suffer from any of the backbiting that seems so inherent to females. Does having a penis make one oblivious to jealousy and insecurity? Or are boys just more laid back when it comes to their friends?

I don't want Fric to suffer the same wounds I've experienced with other women and I don't want to prejudice her with my spectacular history of friendship failures. I want her to be tolerant and accepting of all different type of personalities but how do I model that when for the most part I am standing in my yard, shaking my cane and yelling at everyone to get the hell off my lawn?

How do I teach her it's okay to forgive others for their transgressions without teaching her to be a doormat, when I myself struggle with both issues?

I feel completely unprepared to teach my daughter these life lessons when I'm still learning them myself.

Its times like these I envy boys and their friendships. It would be much easier if I could just slap my friends on the back as we stood side by side, peeing in the bushes.