Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Friends OR Opposites Attract OR Some other title I can't think of that's less cheesy

On Monday Angus was still firmly parked at the house where he'd slept over the night before. If you want to, you can savour the entertaining fact that a friend who moved six hours away a few months ago was also there, and that Angus came home with a dozen pictures on his ipod touch of... his friend Noah's new hamster. My husband said "you didn't take any pictures of Jon?" Angus said "I already know what Jon looks like."

Eve was bored, it was sunny out and we were supposed to walk the neighbours' dog while they're in the Dominican. So I proposed that we walk over to her friend Marianna's house and pick her up for a few hours. We called and set it up, then went next door to get the dog. The dog wasn't there. There's a friend staying there who might have taken him to work. It's a mystery I'm chosing to leave undisturbed for now. I'm not sure why I mentioned it except that it was another good reason for a walk. If I was an editor I'd red-pencil it. Anyway. We had a nice walk over. On the way, Eve said "when you think about it, it's funny that Marianna and I are friends. I can't climb a tree to save my life and she hates books." It's true that they don't have a lot in common except each other. Marianna is wiry and agile and never met a horizontal straight skinny thing that she didn't hang upside down from. Eve used to take twenty minutes to inch her way across the balance beam at gymnastics -- which was six inches above a cushioned floor mat. Marianna loves olives and squid. Eve doesn't even like sauce on her spaghetti. Marianna's own mother says that she lacks empathy -- if someone is sad she'll try to make them laugh, but she just doesn't get it. Eve is so empathetic she doesn't like watching golf balls get hit. Despite this, they've been inseparable since the third day of Junior Kindergarten, which, after two days of staggered entry, was the day they met.

I find it really funny how they're so aware of their differences. As soon as we got there, Marianna ran up to get her new toad to show Eve. She said "do you want me to put it in your hand or are you too scared to touch him?" without a trace of judgement. On the way home, we saw a long line of huge noisy vehicles -- the truck that chews up the snowbanks and a bunch of the dump trucks that it spits the snow into, one being filled and moving on, another empty one moving up to take its place. Eve said "I want to watch them, they're so cool!" and Marianna said "I don't really want to" and Eve said "yeah, I figured you were going to say that". As we walked on, Marianna said "It's the Big Slow-Moving Loud Truck Convention". Eve said "that name is a little awkward... but very descriptive!". Just as we were turning the corner for home, Marianna said "are we almost there? My legs are tired." and Eve said "I was just thinking it was weird that you hadn't started complaining yet. I know how much you hate walking." Their play dates are more of the same. One wants to play a board game, which of course is the last thing the other wants, then five minutes later they're playing the board game happily. They play with the hermit crab that Marianna gave Eve for her birthday, which she was too scared to touch for five weeks but now can pick up. They draw pictures (Eve's favourite thing) and play video games (Marianna's favourite thing). We bring Marianna home, which then turns into a post-play-date at Marianna's, and they both wail when it's time to leave.

I don't know how long they'll be friends. I'm not in touch with anyone I went to kindergarten with. Marianna's crazy Greek family has totally embraced Eve, which I find overwhelmingly wonderful, since my kids don't even have the once yearly experience of being awash in relatives that I used to have with my mother's Polish clan in Saskatchewan. I find it doubly amazing since, like me, they must not really know what to do with this kid that is so different from theirs.

I'm at a point in my life where most of my close friends are a lot like me. I like the idea of being exposed to different ideas and perspectives and paradigms, but in practice, I'm middle-aged and fairly settled in how I see the world, and if I'm honest, someone who views child-raising or religion or or marriage very very differently from me and is a very vocal advocate of their position (there's always room for someone who's as wishy-washy as I am) is probably not going to become my BFF. I'm not trying to make this more profound than it is -- I just find watching my daughter with her friend kind of neat. (and I'm not at all bitter about having to clean out a hermit crab cage every second day).

10 comments:

Nan | WrathOfMom said...

Eve & Marianne sound a lot like my parents. They've been together 45 years, if that offers you some small comfort as you contemplate the future of Eve & Marianne's friendship.

As an aside: I watched that video of Humourless Woman Who Falls In the Fountain when the kids were in the room. Later we went to the pool & they invented a game of miming text-messaging as they walked off the end of the diving board. LAUGHING AT PEOPLE!!! It's fun for the WHOLE FAMILY!

Mary Lynn said...

I met one of my best friends when we went to kindergarten together. She was my maid-of-honour at my wedding, and though we live in different towns and don't speak on a daily or even weekly basis, she is one of the people I feel closest to. When we get together, the conversation comes easily and it all feels very comfortable. We're also quite different people in terms of our likes and dislikes, and in terms of our personalities. After all these years, though, we understand each other very well, we share a lot of memories, and we have an appreciation for each other's difference.

Hana has very similar playdates with one of her friends. They have very different personalities and sometimes drive each other a bit around the bend. But other days they get along great, and they miss each other when a week or two goes by without seeing each other. It'll be interesting to see whether they remain such close friends despite their differences.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I moved around a lot as a kid so I don't have any friends from childhood - even from high school actually. I find it amazing that there are people I know who've been friends since kindergarten. Maybe that will actually happen with Eve. That would be pretty cool.

Gwen said...

I just love Angus. He'd probably get along really well with my husband. They both take pictures of the same types of things!

It speaks a lot to both Eve and Marianna that they are so tolerant and understanding of each other's differences. That will serve them well in life.

I'm still friends with my best friend from kindergarten, although we are not BFF. We keep in touch, and can rely on each other to be there when times are awful. There is a quiet bond between people who knew each other when they were small children. No matter where she moves, how she dresses, where she works, or how many children she has, I "know" her because I knew her before Life put it's stamp on her.

My friends are similar to me, but only certain characteristics. I have some friends who are funny, but have no children and don't get the craziness of that part of my life. I have friends that have children but who never pick up a book (and laugh at my geekiness). But, in all honesty, my very best friend could pass for my twin. Weird.

Julie said...

like you, most of my closest friends at the moment are very similar in values and ethics. those who aren't tend to drift off.

while i am not friends with anyone from kindergarden, elementary school, high school, CEGEP, or university, i do have a friend who i have know since we were about 6 or 7. it was a forced relationship. our parents are best friends. while i know her inside out and we can get along very well, we also bring the worst out in each other. and i am terrible at comparing myself to her. always have been. it can get ugly.

i find it so cool to find out people who have kept friends from so long ago. i don't know why i never kept in touch with people at each stage in my life, but they just sort of floated off to their own lives. facebook has reconnected me to some.

then there are my rugby girl friends. they will be my friends for life, i love them to death even though i don't get to see them often. except this friday. i'm hopping on a train to go dancing with them! can't wait.

last comment: hermit crab? interesting birthday gift choice.

Nicole said...

I think that's very cool. Most of my closest friends are a lot like me. My best friend in high school - we were so opposite in so many ways, but alike in others. We're still close and still very opposite/alike. When we meet for lunch we often get mistaken for sisters, but yet our personalities are so, so different.

Heh, Angus with the picture of the guinea pig. That reminds me of a friend of my husband's, who travelled through Africa and took almost no pictures. He said "If I want to see a picture of a giraffe, I can google it."

the mombshell said...

this post has cheered me up immeasurably, it makes me miss my Marianne-ish bffs from middle school, one of which I just saw this weekend. There are 3 of us all together, bonded by a hatred of cold recesses when we would hide out together in the washrooms at school. That was where our similarities ended. And now 20 years later we're still going strong. And still hate the cold.

Pam said...

I love this. The girls are amazing to watch together and you word it so well. On the outside they seem different but they both have the same level of spirit and passion and they bring out the best in each other. (Who else could make Eve want to get to know a crustasion on a personal level?) What more could you want? I hope they stay close forever. Regardless, they have learned how to get out of their comfort zone and expand horizons. No doubt Eve will have many friendships over the years just like her mom. Lucky are those who get to be a part of her life.

Kelly said...

I am not friends with anyone I knew in those early school years, but we moved around a lot (as in, 6 different schools in 4 different counties by high school). My children have begun forming lasting friendships and I love it. (Though, their friends aren't as quirky and sweet as Eve's friend seems to be.)

Amber said...

Early on in my parenting I learned that I could read the stuff that I mostly agreed with already and feel good, or read the stuff I disagreed with and feel crappy. So I chose feeling good. And in practice, the same is true for most of my friends. We don't have to be in exact agreement, share the same religion or culture, or like the same music, but we have to have some common ground to meet on.

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with that.