How do you make friends? Seriously, how do you do that? It’s hard! I’m not talking about kids, either. Grown ups making grown up friends is hard. As a kid, you have the benefit of just being around other kids all day every day; hopefully someone in that mix will be a good match. But as an adult, it isn’t quite like that. You have work friends maybe, but you don’t always want to hang out with Susan from accounting on the weekend. You might see other parents at the park, but other than playdates, do you really have anything in common?
Then, say you find someone who seems to have similar thoughts as you, and you think, this person might not run screaming if she found out the embarrassing stuff about me! So you decide to risk taking things to the next friendship level, what I call the “Oh no, is the toilet about to clog??” moment.
Here’s how it works: You decide that maybe this person will be understanding when you share that you believe children should sleep in baskets hanging from the ceiling, and only eat white foods on Fridays, and that boys should not cut their finger nails until they are two years old. So you say all that stuff.
Then you wait for their reaction.
And it feels just like when you flush the toilet for the first time in someone else’s guest bathroom. For a moment you think you may have clogged the toilet, and oh man, I barely know this person, and if the toilet clogs everything will come back up in a horrible mess, and I will have to wade through all the stuff I never wanted anyone to see, and I will have no way to clean it up because there is only a half-empty box of Kleenex and I will never be able to look anyone in the eye again because it will all be so humiliating and OH MY GOD. So you hold your breath and hope it will just go down without a fight.
But almost every time, it is just fine. That’s what I keep forgetting. Those things you are sure other people will think are horrible, they really don’t care that much about. And maybe you found someone you can share the more embarrassing stuff with. Or maybe you didn’t, and you just move on and leave it at that.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way around this horrible and terrifying stage of making friends. You just start with the smile of recognition- didn’t we once take KinderMusik together? Then move to the casual conversation about stuff that doesn’t matter- Did you remember the permission slip? Did I tell you about that kid who vomited on me at the Whale Park? Everyone laughs, then you make the next scary step, and hope it goes for the best. If only we could just place ads on Craigslist:
Thirty-something mom seeks other mom (age not important) for conversation, long walks around the sandbox, kid crafts involving candlelight, and ??? Must be friendly, non-judgemental, not perfect, interested in more than just superficial chit-chat. If this is you, meet me at the playground at 3:30 on Wednesday. I’ll bring the juice boxes. Let’s see if the toilet clogs together.