17 posts categorized "Friendships"

My son: always the bad guy

February 08, 2014

Granted, I'm a little biased.  I like to think that my boy isn't always the culprit, the instigator, the initiator, the bad guy.  I know he's no angel, but I don't think he's always the bad guy, like his friend's mom likes to make out.

My boy's BFF is a like-aged boy.  They have similar interests (cars, planes, trains).  Sometimes they like to play "fight" or "karate".  They punch in the air near each other, play fighting.  They wrestle to the ground.  Sometimes, someone gets hurt.

My boy's BFF is sensitive, and my boy errs on the less sensitive side.  Any scratch can cause tears for a sensitive child.  When there is conflict, my boy's BFF is quick to raise the issue: "why did you push me?"  My boy, now hyper-sensitive about being accused, will often run from the scene, guilty-like behavior.

Once home, I will ask: "What happened today?  Why did you push?"  My boy will say: "Because he hit me first."

The scenario has played out several occassions in the same way: My boy, wrongfully accused, runs from the scene.  His BFF, potentially the instigator, cries out and points a finger.

I'm not one to intervene, but - at some point - I would like to set the story straight with the BFF's mama, who believes her son is always the victim.

"Mama, Jack said I was small": When size matters

January 16, 2014

"Mama, Jack said I was a small boy," said my four-year old, a little forlorn.  "He said I couldn't play basketball.  Aren't I a big boy?"  Many children pride themselves in being independent, being "big", being capable, and - yes - being athletic and coordinated.

Growing up, I was often on the smaller side.  I was an autumn baby, always a bit younger than all the rest.  I think I was pretty fit and active, and I had a good shot at being chosen early on teams for games like capture the flag.

A friend commented the other day that her son was feeling less confident on his basketball team, being one of the shorter members.  He, a fifth grader, was about the same height as his 2nd grade sister.

Does size matter?  A few years back, we talked about being vertically challenged and some medical interventions.  But for those that let height run its natural course, how has size played out on the playground, on sports teams, in friendships and beyond?  Is it a big deal when they are younger?  Is it a bigger deal when they are older?  Is it not a big deal at all?

Mamas: Finding your BFF

January 13, 2014

Moving to Portland was scary and exciting all at the same time.  We heard rave reviews of the city, we were thrilled at the opportunity to try it out for a spin.  We arrived, 7 months pregnant with 3-year old in tow, and we knew just one or two other people, my partners' colleagues.

The rest is almost history.  That was over ten years ago, and I met my mama BFF within months of moving to Portland.  When we first moved, I was eager to hit the mama-dating circuit, to meet other like-minded families, to share fun & adventures with new-found friends.  We gave birth to urbanMamas.com where countless other mamas & papas have made connections - found life-long friends, care providers, jobs, support through transitions like moves or divorce - all through the urbanMamas community.  Needless to say, I found my mama BFF plus so many other dear, close friends.  

And, then: we moved.  

Two years after the move, I have to say: I am still seeking a new partner-in-crime, a new best mama pal.  I am still seeking that special someone(s) who will make me laugh so hard I pee, who will talk to me about peeing when I run and how to deal with it, who will talk through career issues like working part-time or trailblazing mamahood in the workplace.

Maybe when you find your mama BFF, it's one and only.  Maybe it just takes a bit more time.  Maybe it requires being even more outgoing than ever.

When you move to a new place or start at a new school and start afresh: how do you make friends?  What are you looking for?  Candlelit dinners & walks on the beach?  Similar-aged kids, similar lifestyles, similar family structures or values?  What have you found was the absolute thing that draws you to another mama?


High School (or College) Class Reunions: do you go?

October 12, 2013

I have disappeared from my high school mailing list, having moved enough times in the past couple of decades.  Until a "friend" on Facebook mentioned it, I didn't realize that it was our 20-year high school reunion.  Well, it had passed, in June, but there were festivities at school upcoming in November.

A robust online conversation ensued amongst many of my high school classmates: "we should skip the school reception and just go out for drinks" and "where is so-and-so?" and "why do I feel like I should lose 20 pounds in the next few weeks?"

I keep in touch with one friend from high school, who was also the maid of honor at my wedding.  There are a handful of other friends with whom I am friends with Facebook, and part of me wonders if I would ever see these folks again in real life.  I lurk from afar, "like" pictures of their kids, comment with suggestions to the post "what should I make for dinner?!?"

But, to gather in real life?  I haven't lived within 600 miles of my old high school until a couple of years ago.  Many former classmates still cluster up close to where we all grew up.  Some of them still go out together, keep in close touch.

I never really thought about going to a high school reunion, but suddenly I am thinking: why wouldn't I?  I live closeby and if it is convenient enough, why not?

I know we all had different experiences in high school, maybe some of us keep in touch with old high school friends and some of us don't.  I'm curious to hear about your reunion experiences!  Did you bring partners or kids?  Did others?  Did you have fun?  Tell me!

A play-date at a new friend's house: things to ask?

September 13, 2013

My daughter came home the other day saying she scheduled a playdate with her new friend whose name I didn't recognize.  They were in the same class this year, she tells me.  She handed me a piece of paper with all her parents' contact numbers.   20130913_125857

Just then, my phone rang.  Great timing, it was the friend's mom.  One of our phones was a bit choppy, but all I gathered was: "Hi, this is [so-and-so's mom]".  Due to a weird connection, I couldn't even catch her name!  But, what I did catch was the fact that her daughter and mine would walk home together after school and that they'd play.  "Could you pick her up at 5?" she asked.  I said, "Sure," and I took down the address.

It occurred to me: I didn't know this family, I didn't know this friend, I didn't know anything about them.  It made me nervous.  I turned to last year's school directory, and we looked up my daughter's friend.  I saw the names of her parents listed (no address) and I did a quick google search on each.  Nothing much came up aside from "yellow pages" and other random directory listings.  Hmpft.

Do your kids have playdates with friends you might not even know, whose parents you definitely don't know?

How to be a Proper Play-Date Host

August 02, 2013

My preschooler, now in summer session with limited daycare, is fully on the play-date circuit.  With new friends circling through the house and with him going to different friends' homes, I am noticing trends.  Little folks get possessive and territorial, it is hard to share!  This is normal, I realize, but I often run out of ways to mediate.  When we host, I let the boy know that he needs to put things away if he absolutely cannot share.  Everything else is fair game.

At his friend's house the other day, there was a squabble over a particularly shiny race car.  The host boy ran to his parent for assistance.  His parent said: "You're the host.  Let your friend play with it."  It wasn't the answer the boy was hoping to hear.

I've never used the comment: "Be a good host" with the connotation that he should let the other friend have the toy/turn.  Perhaps I'm not a good host.  What are the elements for our youngest folks, the preschool set, to be the "proper play date host"?

Volunteering at Schools: Cliques happen

February 25, 2013

Hard to believe, but it has almost been ten years since my first experience volunteering at school.  We were planning for a (pre-)school auction, and we had a required number of volunteer hours to fulfill.  I figured: Might as well get them all done with an auction activity.

Our leader for the auction that year - I will never forget her.  She was a mama to two and she was amazingly gifted at being welcoming, empowering.  She was a strong leader without being overly directing or bossy.  She delegated well and elegantly.  I crawled out my shell and took on a big role organizing all the "easel parties", the sign-up events where attendeeds would typically pay-per-person to participate.  It was a great first experience with a school auction, a great first experience with volunteering at school.

The following year, we had a different leader for the big event.  She was domineering.  She had a vision, and it felt like no one else's ideas could compare to hers.  I tried to volunteer for the same job, but all my products and ideas were met with criticism and were denied.  I cringed, but I got the job done.  I felt like my efforts were all for nothing, but at least I fulfilled those doggone required volunteer hours.

Continue reading "Volunteering at Schools: Cliques happen" »

New moms: What gets you 'out of the house'?

October 18, 2012


Now that my little ones are older -- my youngest is five, and all of my three boys are in school -- I sometimes forget what it's like to be a new mom. That's one reason I love the writing playgroups I've started with Stealing Time and my long-time "home school MFA" classmate Mara Collins; at once I'm doing something I love (talking about writing and reading) and connecting with, mostly, mothers whose children are very young. Even though it's distant for me, remembering what it was like to be a new mother without a lot of community and validation was really hard. It was about that time, though, that I met a mom's group, and then soon after the lovely ladies of urbanMamas.

So I could relate when I asked our new member Tuesday why she had come. She didn't have a writing project specifically in mind. "I just want to get out of the house," she said. That's as good a reason as any!

It brought me back to the feelings of my young mama days, how I wanted to somehow stay relevant to the world and yet still honor my new role as a mother; how hard it was to get to know the new mother self while at the same time learning how to deal with a small very needy being; how little was left at the end of all that and yet how much I needed to use what little was left in an altruistic way.

We're planning to start rolling out the writing playgroups to other neighborhoods and cities starting in the winter, to give more people this chance to "get out of the house" in a way that engages your brain and still honors your motherhood (or, if you're an at-home dad, your fatherhood). If you're a new mom, how do you connect with all the other selves that sometimes get muffled in motherhood? If you're not so new any more, how did you do it back then?

What do they want? A mantra for parenting and my own fool self

March 26, 2012

I spent yesterday immersed in all the loneliness and fervent belief and highly embarrassing prayers of my high school years. I had a screening for Mortified PDX -- Mortified, in case you've never heard of it, is a series of live readings of poetry, journals and other horrifying writing from one's own teen years -- and I'd spent a half-hour with the producers talking about what, exactly, I wanted as a teen? All afternoon, I sat in the basement and, later, at my dining room table, poring over journals and papers (with perforated edges thanks to our old dot-matrix printer!) and binders full of my deep thoughts and doodlings.

What did I want? I actually had an answer when they asked me at the beginning: I wanted to be popular. See, I knew I seemed popular from the outside -- I was a cheerleader, I ended up as student body president, I was involved in nearly every school organization to some capacity, I was even voted 'Most Likely to Succeed' -- but I didn't get invited to parties and I rarely had much in the way of boyfriends. I had lots of crushes and crushees and dates to the prom two years running -- but it wasn't ever because of my yearbook-worthy couplehood.

Now, I have what I want, even speaking strictly within my high school peer group (and I'm married to one of the guys I crushed on in high school); after our 20th reunion I had lots of old friends come up to me and say how much my soul-baring on my blog, on Facebook, and/or here had resonated with them; I'd become popular by, paradoxically, telling all the embarrassing, true-self-opening stuff I kept to myself in high school. Weird, but true. I'll just go ahead and quote myself from October 23, 1987, 7:51 p.m.: "There is an abundance of things that boggle my mind, including mostly eternity and the universe."

Which brings me to parenting.

Continue reading "What do they want? A mantra for parenting and my own fool self" »

Happy New Years, Resolutionaries!

January 01, 2012

I'm sure my friend Brandy didn't make up the word "resolutionaries," but I saw it first on her Facebook page and so we're going with that. "Resolutionaries: people who you see in the gym in January." It's not just in the gym, of course, but shopping for vegetables instead of candy bars and filling the coffee shops with their laptops, writing a screenplay, maybe, and taking walks with their kids.

As 2012 dawned beautifully today, I ran up to Mt. Tabor and it was like those gorgeous 80-degree Sundays in June -- you know the ones. The ones that happen every few years, when everyone has taken a walk with their spouses and their children and their friends -- generations of family with walking sticks and strollers, on foot and on bikes. People were everywhere, running and holding hands and laughing. New Seasons was entirely out of organic black-eyed peas. It will be an auspicious year. (Mine will have to be auspicious with white northern beans and chili beans -- thank goodness I'm only affectionately superstitious.)

 I'm a little woozy with resolutions. I make some, but often I don't make them right away, or just promise myself to commit a little better to things I'm already doing. Like running: I try to always run on New Year's Day, but often I've run on New Year's Eve as well, and (if things are looking up) a few times on Christmas week. My cycles of commitment don't so much follow the Roman calendar as they do the school calendar and my own personal cycles.

But still. I've committed to a few things that seem perfect for the new year, and so far so good. I won't promise to do these every day all year. But I'm trying to become more consistent, more present, more focused at:

  • Baking bread. I started a big batch of no-knead bread on Christmas Eve -- I'm doing another tonight.
  • Writing for myself first. Instead of starting each session of writing (and, if auspicion shines around me, each morning) with a piece of writing for pay or for a blog like this, I'll write something that pleases me, even if it's just a few sentences. (I did it tonight!)
  • Getting up before my kids. It was pretty easy today (there has been some major, major sleep deprivation in our house). But even if it's 20 minutes or so earlier, getting up first makes such a difference in my day and my ability to be present for the boys.
  • Doing things instead of waiting for someone else to __. I've been waiting for someone to help me with the living room painting. Someone to help me fix the front gate and the window. Someone to fix the ceiling so I could clean off those shelves. Etc. Etc. Today I cleaned off those shelves! And I'm almost done with the living room painting. And there will be more...
  • Asking for help. I'm never good at it. I've been trying...
  • Saying "yes" to friends. I say "maybe" a lot and know that means "no." I'm going to try to say "yes" more. Three so far in the past few weeks have warmed my heart!

Are you a resolutionary or a committed life-changer each new year or a more (umm?) creative cycle follower like me? What will this year bring, you hope, for you?

Kids & Counseling: when does it make sense?

October 07, 2010

I was chit-chatting with a friend earlier, and she talked about her 13-yo son and his biweekly counseling sessions.  He has ADD, which accompanies a host of other emotional issues for him including anxiety and depression.  The counseling sessions really work for him.  

We got to talking about my biggest girl and her emotional swings of late, surely a thing of growing up.  Then my friend suggested: "Why not have her see somebody"  I said, "Like a therapist?"  My friend thinks that having someone, a third-party, to have as a sounding board, is a good thing for a youth in their pre-tween to teenage years.  But, I thought, aren't her friends supposed to be that "someone to talk to"?  What about other close friends who are adults?  And, even, how about me, her mother?

There are situations when a therapist makes sense for our children, but - after my friend's suggestion - I am wondering, when *does* it make sense?  Has your child gone to counseling or to a therapist?  For what goals?  And, do you have some suggestions in the Portland-area?

All the working mamas! (all the working mamas)... how do you find friends?

July 22, 2010

So many of us have been there, so many times.  Mamahood is hard to begin with, but being a working working mama can further complicate (and limit) opportunities to meet other mamas and other kidlets.  What are your best suggestions for meeting other working mamas?  Or, maybe: what are your best suggestions for working mamas to meet other mamas?  An urbanMama recently emailed:

...how do working mothers find mother frineds?  If they did not start out with frineds with the same age babies.  I find that all mothers groups take place during the woprkweek, as does baby storytime and other community offerings.  I just wanted to know if there is something I am missing and would love to hear other suggestions.

What to do when you're not so fond of your child's friend

June 29, 2009

Childhood friendships can be so sweet, but what if you find yourself in a situation when your child is associating themselves with a purported "bad apple".  How do you deal with this situation?  Paige recently emailed us for your advice.  She writes:

I'm excited summer's here but not so excited about the fact that this means that my son's new friend (and also one of our neighbors) will be a constant presence.  Up until now, I've been very fond of my son's friends and happy to have them running amok, but I am not so fond of this new friend. Just today the ideas that the new friend had including introducing him to using questionable language and ideas such as taking his money to buy ice cream.  These were ideas that I happened to be within earshot of hearing.  While I think these ideas in itself do not inflict himself harm, he's 6 years old and these are choices that I am not quite ready for him to make on his own.  I am also not so thrilled about the negative influence that this child has on my son.  Have you found yourself not so fond of your child's friend?  If you have, do you let it go, or do you set limits on those friendships? Also, how do you go about setting those limits on a friend who constantly invites himself over?

Mamas & Blogs & Facebook: is it too much?

April 15, 2009

When we started urbanMamas almost 5 years ago, I was mama to just a teeny little babe who would wake me up at all hours of the night.  After a feeding at 2am, I would sneak downstairs, open up the computer, and check out the feeds I'd read.  I'd devour the stories, gobble them all up along with a middle-of-the-night snack.  Thank goodness Facebook wasn't around then.  I may have never slept.

Through time, I realized it wasn't terribly healthy to be crawling out of bed and catching up on mama blogroll, as it would keep me up for 1-2-3 hours during prime sleeping time.  I went through a period when I forced myself to stay in bed.  I had to resist the urge, that pull into the blogosphere vortex. 

Now that the kids are older, I am on a much more regulated sleep schedule, but I am still drawn to catch up with friends on Facebook or to check out what's the haps on urbanMamas and other favorite mama conversational sites.  I know I'm not the only one!  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I am hooked on Facebook.  I check it 3-4 times a day and love reading updates, new photos, posting status updates and commenting on my friends' walls.  I can't help it, I feel so connected to people miles and miles away.

I also check my blog rounds throughout the day during my breaks from school, our toddler, and all of our responsibilities. I like being a part of these social networks and forum like discussions but I feel like I am contributing to a society more in touch with ourselves, and less in touch with each other.

How do I moderate this habit?  Any suggestions that have worked for you?  When I am not around a computer I am more creative; and when I talk to friends and hang out with them it is so much more fulfilling than messaging or writing comments on their blog or wall.

Is our generation going through a change of communication, what's going on?  How do I balance traditional social etiquette and lifestyle while being modern, wireless, and digital?

"Other Mother" Cliques

March 07, 2009

We define ourselves in different ways, and we can be drawn to other mamas who may be like us in one way or another.  When we gravitate to other like mamas, do we then alienate and exclude others?  Do we find ourselves on the outside of a circle, do we struggle to find ways in?  How can we approach a group of mamas who already have such strong bonds and intimacy?  An urbanMama recently emailed about her experiences with mama circles and wanted to hear about yours:

I'm hoping to ask a question about dealing with the "other mother" cliques.  I have three children, two of whom are school aged.  For both of their classes, I feel like I'm back in junior high when it comes to interacting with other mothers.  There are sub-groups, parties they talk about, inside jokes, etc.  Unlike other adult relationships, I have to see these folks all of the time.  I certainly have some friends among them, but considering I'm an introvert, it can certainly be overwhelming.  I'd love to have some strategies before my third enters school.  Any thoughts?

Do we all have to be friends? Why?

November 25, 2008

Late last school year, my girl developed a new friendship at her school.  My girl came home talking and talking about "Penny".  We'd seen Penny at school before, and she seemed like a sweet and spunky little gal, a perfect compliment to our girl.  Our girl was beside herself when Penny invited her over to her birthday party.  Our whole family went to the birthday party, to get to know our girl's new friend & her family a little better.

We were a bit taken aback how unwelcome and uncomfortable we felt with Penny's mom.  As we got settled with the other families, Penny's mom hardly said two sentences to us.  As she prepared candles on the cake, Penny's mom was muttering under her breath.  As she took pictures of the group of kids, Penny's mom scolded her husband for not being helpful.  As she saw her in-laws (Penny's grandparents) approaching, Penny's mom rolled her eyes and audibly said, "Good grief, I can't believe they're here."  There was so much negativity and judgment coming from Penny's mom that we felt really, really awkward.

Recently, our girl has resurfaced the request to have a play date with Penny.  Likewise, Penny has asked me directly if she and our girl could plan a play date.  I keep deflecting the requests.  I'm not keen on Penny's mama, and I would hate for things to get negative while my girl was I her house, even if the negativity was not necessarily directed at my girl.  I suppose I could suggest that Penny come to our house, but I somehow can't even stomach that idea.  The whole thought leaves a bad taste in my mouth; we just weren't too fond of the idea of nurturing a relationship with Penny's family.

If you encountered a family that rubbed you the wrong way, what would you do if the kids still wanted to play?  Do we ALL have to be friends?  Awww, do we HAVE TO?

Childhood Milestones: The Solo Playdate

February 19, 2008

As our kids branch off and make new friends at school, did you have apprehensions about that first playdate at his / her friend's house without your presence?  You know, the one where you just introduced yourself to the child's parent, and then left on an errand for an hour or two?  Tracy has a probing question for you.  She writes:

My son is 3.5 years old. Until he started preschool last fall his "friendships" were with playgroup friends and a couple of children of my friends, basically people I've known for a long time and trust with my child. But now, he's making friends in his school and I'm not sure how to support that while still providing the supervision and protection I think he needs. I would be happy to invite another child over to the house to play, but I am not really ready to have him go somewhere else to play until I get to know the other parents very well. If I feel this way, do other parents? I don't have a problem inviting someone over with the invitation for the parent to come as well should that be what they want. But how can I do this without offending the other parent if/when they reciprocate? Obviously if they invited me to their house I would have no problem, but what if they just invite my son? At what age have people just allowed their child to go to someone's home for a play date without them? Are other parents offended if I ask the questions like does anyone smoke at your house, are there weapons there, etc? I'm willing to admit to being considered overprotective in the eyes of some, but I can't help it. Any guidance from been-there-moms would be very helpful.