The other night my husband said something so fine
that it's been popping into my head ever since,
on some kind of repeat cycle that gets more and more beautiful
with each replay.
He said, and I quote:
"The kids are amazing. It's like we got to make our very own best friends, from scratch!"
Now, the fact that my husband loves our kids this much is awesome.
The fact that he sees our kids as a gift. Awesomer.
(And I don't care that "Awesomer" is not a word. I'm using it)
But the fact that he sees our kids as his best friends? AwesomEST.
we're those parents, the ones who see our kids as our friends. :) And not just the type of friends we socialise with but don't know so well, or the friends we wish, just a little, would change. No. Our kids are our best friends.
They're the kind of friends we see and the first thing we do is smile. And reach to hug them.
They're the friends I look forward to seeing in the morning, literally minutes after they've gone to bed. And in the morning, they're the ones I tell my crazy dreams to.
They're the ones I respect, admire, and am inspired by. The friends I learn from.
They're the friends I tell my opinions to, and then, so they don't blindly agree, ask if they can find the opposite argument (which makes for some funny conversations!).
They are the friends who, in times of stress or trouble or frustration, I ask gently to be respectful. To think of the other. To be mindful of the effect of their words.
Then they become even more kind to each other and kind to me.
We have so many interests in common, and so many new things to learn from each other. We ask each other questions. We listen to the answers. We are always, always talking. We say, "I love you," all the time. It's hard to believe I get to share my life with these people. I feel grateful, short-of-breath lucky, every day.
Now, I've heard as a parent you're not supposed to be your child's friend. You should be their mentor, their guide, their disciplinarian, their leader, but not their friend. I've heard that if you don't have control over your kids, they'll be disrespectful and misbehave. I've heard that being a child's friend confuses them, or makes them take you for granted.
Ah, the things I've heard and read and seen! None of them resonate with the kind of parent I am or want to be.
I remember when I started teaching, many years ago, and being warned, "Don't try to be the kids' friend. They will walk all over you." So I went into that school room with a list of rules, and my defences up. Today I know I could have done it differently, and I would have felt more true to myself. I only taught in a classroom for a short time, but I know I was more effective the more I treated the kids not as people to control, but people to learn something from.
I believe teachers and parents can be friends to kids. I think being a friend—and by that I mean—listening to, being inspired by, and respecting children is one of the finest gifts you can give them. AND yourself.
That doesn't make me a pushover. I also say that receiving respect in turn, is part of the deal. It's a mutual thing. It's the whole, 'Treat others as you would like to be treated' thing. So I'm someone who treats my kids and others with kindness, honesty and respect and I assume that's what I'll get in return. If that's forgotten, I just ask for it. Openly, and without anger (for the most part!).
I'm not a saint and I've totally gotten cranky. I've been frustrated with my wonderful kids and they've been cross with me. But we always come back to the core of Us. Which is that we love each other. So very much! We are people who genuinely like each other and want to be liked. We don't want to hurt each other or make others sad. We want to be treated kindly and we want to be kind. We respect and want to be respected.
When we remember these things, and live by these truths, friendship is inevitable. It can't help itself—friendship just comes!
I've seen kids light up when adults ask them something about themselves, when it's genuine and has no agenda. I've seen kids run up to share something special because they know I'm interested. I've seen kids smile so big when grown-ups stop being "older and wiser and better" and just talk.
It's not hard to be a friend. Kids don't walk all over you. They just share and give and love you all the more.
It's magic when that connection, that true, honest bond, is made.
You fill right up, then overflow.
(And to my husband, who loves appearing in this blog? You are my best friend, too.)