The Friend Philosophy
Raise your hand if you remember that Chris Brown beat the CRAP out of Rihanna back in 2009.
But I think the Grammys forgot.
I was kind of shocked to see Chris Brown on stage at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards singing and dancing like he wasn’t the guy who shoved Rihanna’s head into the passenger window of a car before using her face as a punching bag.
I’m familiar with the unwritten rule “Forgive and Forget,“ but there are exceptions. How about a little discretion, Grammy’s? Next time why don’t you just book Michael Vick to be one of Brown’s back up dancers?
There’s so much hate and bitterness in this world so the concept of forgiveness is, in theory, a good one. But should every act of wrongdoing be forgiven? Should we hide resentment every time someone betrays our confidence, pounds our self esteem or lets us down?
There are grey areas that surround each isolated incident so, as a parent, the subject of friendship and forgiveness can be a hard one to teach.
My 4-½ year old, Sweet Pea, recently told me that one of her friends is mean to her sometimes.
I told Sweet Pea that she didn’t “need that kind of friend” to which she responded: “Yeah, I don’t need that.” I told her what she does need is someone else to play with when that girl is being mean. I instructed her to temporarily move on to greener pastures until the girl is ready to be nice. And once she is ready to be nice, and she apologizes, it would be a good move to forgive her.
I thought my advice was stellar. Sweet Pea’s friend, for all intents and purposes, is not really a bad kid and let’s face it–girls (of all ages) can be mean at times, Sweet Pea included. That’s why I was shocked when Sweet Pea looked at me and said “Mommy, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.”
Jeez, take it easy. That’s so…final. So the kid was a little mean to you. I don’t know if that warrants ending a pretty solid friendship. That friend has some really good qualities. She is good about playing the dog when they play “Dog and Dog Walker.” (Dumbest game ever, by the way) and she always opts to be one of the ugly step-sisters when they play “Cinderella.” The friend clearly has some redeeming qualities because until just recently, my kid has always loved being with her.
I know I have to acknowledge Sweet Pea’s statement about ending the friendship. I’m sure she’s probably bluffing, but it still seems like a good time to open a dialogue about mommy’s “Friend Philosophy.” (Much of this I learned from my own mom.) It’s probably a little early for Sweet Pea to get into something so deep, but the advice is both solid and reasonable–and beyond that, I think it will serve her well in the future with ALL of her friends.
Here it is:
Every friend wears a different hat. You might have a friend who is fun to shop and eat with. She gets the Shopping and Face Stuffing Hat. Maybe you have a friend who you can confide in but she’s no fun to shop with. That’s OK because she gets the I-Keep-My-Mouth-Shut hat and that is a good hat to have even if she’s no fun to shop with. Perhaps you have a friend who you like to go running with (or something horrible like that). She would get the Running Hat. And so on.
So, Sweet Pea’s friend doesn’t always get to wear the I’m Nice hat. So what? She looks cute in the I’m Fun hat and when she is mean, her behavior is probably harmless and manageable. Plus, if she is a friend who selflessly steps up to be Ken every time they play Barbies, I’d say she’s worth keeping around.
It’s very rare to have one friend who can wear every hat, and it’s not fair to expect such a thing. We have to accept our friends for who they are and for what they are capable of giving. Some give a lot and some give enough, but few (if any) can give all. That’s why most of us have more than one friend. Variety is good, and everyone is comfy in their hats.
But what about the friend who is just a total anchor? The friend who you’re truly done with? What about the Chris Browns who used to be in a very Loved hat, but somehow lost their way–and their hat? What do you do with the toxic people who no longer have a positive place in your life because their redeemable qualities have been replaced by bad energy, drama and stress?
If you truly have a person in your life who is just completely and utterly draining and bringing absolutely nothing positive to bring to the table (and I’m so sorry if you do) well…that person, if at all possible, probably needs to be ejected. And that’s not an easy thing to do. Cutting someone out of your life is rough, but protecting yourself is necessary.
I know that Sweet Pea’s friend can be mean at times, but she is certainly not at toxic status. Some of us–many of us–have people in our lives that are poison. If you, sadly, know of what I speak–don’t despair! There is a hat for that person. It’s the YOU SUCK SO BAD THAT I JUST CAN’T HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE ANYMORE hat.
If I were Rihanna, that is the hat I would get for Chris Brown–and if there is a hat that says LOSER, I would grab that one too.
He will look great in it at the Grammys.
Thanks for being here!
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