The beauty of parenting teenagers and middle schoolers is you get to go back in time and revisit all of the crazy moments of your youth when the definition of friendship was more pliable than it is in your adult years.
Or at least that is how it is supposed to be but if life has taught us old folks anything it is that what is supposed to be sometimes isn’t and what we expect to happen sometimes doesn’t.
My children and I have had occasion to discuss what it means to be a friend and what it means to be an acquaintance more than once.
Every one of those conversations has been punctuated with the importance of trying to act like the kind of friend you want your friends to be.
And everyone of those conversations has included a section about how sometimes people change and they leave our lives or we leave theirs.
Sometimes it is for a short time and sometimes forever.
If they are important we try to hold onto them and if they feel the same they’ll do it too or they won’t.
The conversations that come up because of the coming election have been a mixture of the silly and the sublime.
It is different sort of feel this time around for me, in part because all of my children are old enough to be aware of how crazy this particular one is.
Some of it comes from classroom and or school yard discussions and some from things they hear on television or read online.
It has made for a host of teaching moments, with the focal point being upon how much influence the president has upon our lives.
It is a conversation that I have had with friends and family more than once. One where I ask people to explain what influence the president has upon policy and how it is or isn’t implemented.
I’ll confess sometimes I have put it out there because I wasn’t convinced the person haranguing me to believe a certain way had any clue about what they were talking about.
But it hasn’t always been like that and it certainly wasn’t with the kids.
No, with them I wanted to stress the importance of trying to be the captains of our personal destiny.
Sail Your Ship
I want them to understand that I don’t accept Emerson’s quote at face value nor do I completely deny it.
What that means is I think we need to be active participants in our lives and to focus upon steering our ships as best we can.
Figure out what you need and go get it. Figure out what you want and go get it.
But understand there are things you do not and cannot control and that sometimes the crap flinging monkeys will land a shot and you’ll have to do more than clean up.
You’ll have to roll with whatever craziness hit you and accept there was nothing you could do to prevent the layoffs at your job or that you had no idea your car would be totaled in an accident.
Take control where you can and roll with what you can’t.
Who Walks With You
Had a conversation with my teen the other day about friends and talked about the importance of trying to stay in touch.
I told him sometimes it can be frustrating because you think you should look to your right and left and see your buddies there.
You shouldn’t have to wonder who walks with you except sometimes you do and you will.
Sometimes you will find yourself in the midst of the toughest fight of your life and no one will be standing with you but not because they are unwilling to but because they don’t know they should.
When you don’t ask, you don’t get.
I have been thinking about that particular conversation quite a bit because I am not particularly good at asking for help.
Some of it is because I like to do things on my own but most of it is because I don’t think about it.
Since I have a perfect record of surviving every bad day I figure I’ll power my way through whatever comes along.
Having gone through very challenging moments I am not so sure I want him to follow my example. I may have gotten through most of them but I did it the hard way and that is not the best way to go.
Help is there, but sometimes we have to ask for it.
What Kind Of Friend Are You?
“Dad, what kind of friend are you?”
I laughed when he asked me the question and told him I could give him a short answer or a long answer.
He said to speak as long as it took so I nodded my head and told him I hoped I was the kind of friend everyone wanted to be but that I didn’t think that was how everyone would describe me.
When he asked what that meant I said that some of my friends would absolutely describe me as a guy that could be relied upon to always come through.
“So some of your friends wouldn’t describe you like that?”
“Nope, some probably wouldn’t. I hope the close ones, the people who are really important think of me that way, but I can’t say for certain they do or would.”
“The goal is do my best to be that kind of friend but to not be so arrogant as to think I might not fall short of the mark.”
But if you were to ask me to be more specific about it, well I probably would say this is the model of the kind of friend I want to be.
What do you think?