Sometimes I wonder what incident in the lives of my kids will impact them so greatly that it effects how they react and interact for years and years to come, yet may not even register a blip on my radar. I know I am ultra sensitive to this because I know of several incidents that probably seemed like typical childhood events to my parents, yet made such an impact on me that I still see the ripple effect today.
For example, no matter how much I try (and believe me I am trying) to change my knee jerk reaction to how I react and think around other women, I still seem to deep down respond the same way. And I can trace back to exactly where this behavior came from.
I remember that I was only 12 and in jr. high school still. At that time I was best friends with a girl named Terri and we were both friends with Mary. (Yes, cutesy rhyme, huh. I still have friends whose names rhyme. It’s a curse.) Anyway, Terri and I did everything together. She was my first real female friend. Prior to that I lived in an area that was mostly boys and that was what I was comfortable with. Terri and I met in 4th grade when I was just 9 years old. I borrowed a crayon in art class. She had that cool 64 pack and I had the 24 pack. (Funny the things you remember, isn’t it. For the record, my kids only get the 64 pack now. I am scarred by this!) Terri brought the fun girl stuff to my life like make-up, shaving my legs and giggling about boys. Whereas my family was very Leave It To Beaver, hers was very Married With Children. (Okay, that show wasn’t on then, but work with me. I just am showing the differences in our lives.) In some ways she fascinated me. In other ways, she scared me. Both were new feelings in a friendship. She seemed dangerous. Nothing in my life was dangerous.
Our friendship was typical of what girl friendships were back in the 80’s. Rollerskating, talking on the phone to boys, MTV and sleepovers. Everything was great until our 7th grade year. Sometime after our winter break, I was sick and missed 3 days of school. When I got back to school, I found that Terri and Mary were suddenly the very best of friends…and no longer talking to me. At all. In fact, there were venomous looks and much behind my back laughter. I had no idea what I had done wrong. Surely, I could make it right. I am not proud that I begged and pleaded to fix whatever was wrong, but this was the first time I was ever brutally dumped (by anyone). Finally, Mary felt bad enough to tell me that Terri felt that I didn’t know what it felt like to be left out and now I would. That is the only explanation I ever got. Ever. I would like to say that was where the feud ended and the relationship just ended. But no. This was a feud escalated and remained bitter well past high school. Honestly, I still don’t know what happened.
Imagine my shock when I walk into the cafeteria at school my first week in college and there she was. But by then, I had realized I wasted too many years and emotions on her. I went right up to her and said hi and asked about her life and all the typical small talk. She was just as shocked to see me, but civil. (I am sure after years of keeping up the bitterness we were both pretty tired of it!) Although, I did sort of feel sorry for her to see her with the same crowd that she ran with in high school. After we did the polite small talk and I went back to my roommate and my new friends. When they asked who she was I just responded, “No one.” And felt nothing. (Oh sure, later on in the dorm they got the whole story over pizza and
But you see, from that seemingly insignificant event with her back in jr. high, I still have issues with fear if being left out. You see, if women are getting together that I am friends with or that I know, and I can’t be there for whatever reason, I think, “Ssurely they are talking badly about me. Surely they are saying how horrible I really am.” If there is an event that I just really don’t want to go to, I will go anyway. Not because I feel obligated, but because I think I better go or I won’t be welcome there anymore. This is how I got myself hooked into the PTA this year. I wanted to be a part of things. If I were a part of things, I would know what was going on and wouldn’t be the one the nasty women talk about behind her back. (Misjudged that one, eh?)
My favorite quote ever is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I am really working on that one. I have a long way to go. This year beat me down enough to realize the truth in that statement. I’m not giving my consent anymore.
I hate this about me. Detest it. Want it gone. By writing about it (and seeing how pathetic it looks in print) perhaps I will have exorcized some demons. But the whole thing that caused me to start thinking about it was when I started to wonder about my kids.
Will there be and event (or has there been an event) in their life that will so shake the foundation of who they are that it effects them for life and I may not even know it? How do parents know which things are the “big ones” for kids and which ones will be but a mere memory in a few years? How are we supposed to guide them through these times when to us, it may only appear as a blip on our radar?
I know I worry about this way too much. Everything from the advice I give Kidlet Sr. about girls (oy!) to the advice I give Kidlet Jr. on how to handle a friend who isn’t being nice this week. Does it get easier? Or really, in the long run should we forego putting money away for a college fund, but be damn sure to put money away for a therapy fund?