Friends as Family

I’ve been watching my students navigate their friendships.  Some are very casual and hands-off, they arrive and depart with the bell making little daily contact with others.  Then I watch the kids that are almost in love with each other, they’re that close.  I’d like to tease them, but I’m concerned about what that will do.  Will they stop being close friends at all or will they resent me for making their relationship seem bad (at this age they REALLY worry about being perceived as gay).

While I am extremely judgemental and opinionated, I do actually remember what it was like to be that age.  I remember wanting close friendships and not being sure how to navigate the intricacies of other families.  How do you balance friends who aren’t alike?  How do you balance friends that don’t like each other?  I admit to being both an overbearing bully and also someone who talked about others.  I’m not proud of it.  I know that both came from an area of insecurity.  Trying to be accepted when you don’t know the rules is hard.

Over time, of course, I developed core friendships that stay with me to this day.  I’ve been fortunate to have people who love me despite myself.  While not as difficult as I make out, I’m also not being understated.  I’m not easy.  I have VERY strong ideas, opinions, and views of the world.  These wonderful people will listen to some of the most a$$-backward ignorant stuff and STILL take my calls. 🙂  How lucky is that?

I’ve also realized that, over time, your friends really become your family-plus.  I say family-plus because, obviously, they’re not your family.  However, they act in that place.  They get grafted into your life and become part of that family tree or jungle.  These are the people your kids call aunts and uncles if only because they’re the siblings you always wanted!

They’re also family-plus because you THINK you know them and when they don’t act the way you expect, you get mad at them for it.  Then you expect them to suck-it-up cause you’ve been friends so long.  That’s the family-plus.  You now think they HAVE to love you rather than they can choose it. Funny, when you have 20-30-50 year friendships, you do get over it after your quiet time.  Maybe it’s because that person knows you really well, maybe it’s habit, maybe it’s because, like your crazy uncle, you realize that person is part of the family like it or not.

So on behalf of me, I declare the week before Thanksgiving as Celebrate Your Family-Plus.  Besides they’re the ones you’re going to go shopping with on Black Friday to gossip over what happened on Thanksgiving!  😉

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