otherfcuker friends

In ALL, FRIENDSHIP by Stephanie Klein19 Comments

I‘m just going to come out with it. I’ve met “The Mothers.”

If you had nothing more to go on, and you closed your eyes and tried, perhaps the following free-associations might bubble to the top:

Talk of product recalls
Tapered, stonewashed jeans
Jokes about wine and sippy cups
Designer strollers that cost more than your first car

No. No. Yes. And, no. Dayna, Devon, and Demi—the triple D’s with the double D’s—are not those mothers. They’re the motheryuckers. They live off the belief that everything and everyone adore children, most especially theirs, and that life should be “yukked up.” Literally and figuratively.

It was Demi, queen motheryucker, who’d invited me to meet her friends, the otherfcukers, and their accessorized younglings for breakfast. I thought it was wholly generous of her, especially with a name meaning “half,” to extend the invitation, and I’ll admit, I was looking forward to meeting other moms, even if our kids did attend different summer camps.

our street
The Street on the Way to My Florida Home

Demi scribbled the meetup spot on the back of an envelope she’d fished out of her Marry Poppins Purse. “Just a local spot.” One day and a twenty-eight minute drive later, I was meeting her and her crew at the un-local breakfast spot (although Demi lives around the corner, her friends were further out). It was your basic muffin and donut shop, with smells of cinnamon, butter, and the centers of wet eggy French toast triangles—only there were mostly offerings of egg white salad, flagels and diet lobster salad. In lieu of booths, stools and a breakfast bar, there were board games and newspapers dotted throughout the B-lounge, inviting patrons to settle in on sofas, to relax with a strong cup of coffee, maybe even make a new friend. Perfect.

Except, it wasn’t perfect. Before Luke, Abigail and I walked through the front doors, I crouched to meet their eyes, reminding them to be on their best behavior, “as you always are because that’s what we do in our family.”

Total side note: when my children do misbehave, and they do, I try to remind them, “You have very good manners and are such good listeners. And this behavior isn’t who you are, at all. I know that. You know that. So, let’s be ourselves now.” It works, unless it doesn’t. I’m learning to embrace the bad mother in me, the lazy mom, the mom who says that’ll just have to be good enough. But I always do try… unless they’re absurdly tired, in which case, I haul ass. Which, I should say, “sometimes involves leaving without getting my shit done,” but in truth, no. My checklist items are getting crossed off even if I’m cross with my overtired offspring. Basically, their asses will be dragged down with me.

Upon entry, we were greeted by The triple D’s, waving us down from their coffee clutch, glossy smiles, makeup, coordinated gym and tennis outfits. Each of them looked photo-ready. Their children, however, were another story—a poorly laid out story, with disjointed unruly little verbs and nouns bouncing from walls, weaving through the legs of patrons. To their little boys and girls, the armchairs and sofas were a theme park knot of slides, to be slid down, and climbed upon. Their tutu-clad girls with pigtail curls and sparkling light-up sneakers raced up and down the cafe, chasing one another, screaming full throttle. I looked over my shoulder; was I the only one seeing this?

It’s one thing when a parent is trying her best to handle the situation. She’s flustered, exhausted, an apologetic mess. But The D’s didn’t do sorry. And they didn’t come close to rolling out the “R” in “reprimand.” Instead, one seized a Splenda, offering up an unimpassioned, “Yeah, the staff just loves when they see us walk through the door.”

So here’s my question, can you really be friends with someone who raises her children in a manner to which you strongly object? We’re not talking some one-off bad day, where you just don’t have the energy to deal. I’m talking a consistent parenting style that evokes images of Mr. Wonka’s Veruca Salt. I don’t see how. Because I don’t want my children to be around that. I don’t want to be around that.

Though I will admit I do have friends, friends I adore, who have wild boys who play with sticks and throw things and act like sour patch kids. But it’s too late. I’m already in love with their mothers. I can’t take it back, even if I wished she could take them back. But starting out fresh, where I have somewhat of a choice in the friends I keep, if I judge them so harshly, how can I ever imagine being their friends?

I basically prefer asshole moms who don’t let their children get away anything. They might not always listen—what child does?—but their parents at least attempt to correct their child’s behavior. And what do I do about this? When my own children continually ask for a playdate with an adorable boy whose mother is a demi-glazed groaner whose stories make me want to debone a chicken and stab her face with its carcass?

Ignore her.
Always be too busy.
Say you’re available when you KNOW she’s not, so you’re not the aloof stuck-up bitch.
If you must have plans, because your son really wants to play with hers, invite other people, so you’re not stuck with her one-on-one.

All sounds reasonable enough. Because I genuinely believe it’s crueler to have a conversation about it, and I’m sure she’s a good person who’s capable of taking a hint, right? Wrong. She calls and calls and emails and texts and does not go away. She gives me the opposite of a lady boner.

So, what is it? What is it about her that I really don’t like? Is it just her parenting? No. I don’t like how eager and panting, and negative she is. She’s OPINIONATED in a really aggressive way—like Phil and his mother. I don’t need any more opinion pushers in my life. You know, aside from when I ask for help and opinions, as I am doing here, now. 

It dawns on me now that I actually liked the other two double D’s. It was just Demi splashing over that had colored my opinions of the other women. I don’t like how bothered I am by her, this person who clearly only wants to do right by her son. Perhaps it wouldn’t be awful if she’d say, “We’ll have a little wine while they play, just come over, you’ll see.” That relaxed way of doing things is what I need in my life. I don’t need wide-eyed heroin hopped up rats gnawing at me for plans. Just no. That’s not who I want to spend time with. Do I love Boca? I love the palm trees, love the weather and ocean, love being close to more family, especially my mother. I think I’d learn to love South Florida, I already am, if I found friends that inspired me, friends who made me laugh, that were characters or quietly interesting, but who were generous with their knowledge, contacts, friends and wisdom. Something I try so hard to be for my own friends.

There is a really shiny glimmer of hope: I have met a several women at the kids’ preschool with whom I’m genuinely looking forward to spending more time. Friends of friends have made introductions via facebook. Alexandra has thankfully introduced me to her swarm of Pine Crest alumnae. And we’ve made two “couples” friends in our greater neighborhood (within Woodfield, but not our particular development) with whom we’ll for sure include for game nights and dinner parties. I’m already thinking of a theme: Polynesian Night… where I’ll be serving a beef filet tenderloin with a Kona coffee demi glaze in honor of the friends I haven’t made. And piña colada ice cream, obviously.

All in, I think I’m doing pretty well. And so long as I’m real, I’m sure to continue to meet real people who’ll hopefully grow into real friends.

Comments

  1. That’s a tough one. Perhaps Demi and her brood would be easier one-on-one–and on your turf, where your household rules, well, rule. But if it really upsets you to spend time with her, don’t. Can you beg off with a white lie the next time she calls??? –too much work, still getting settled, guests, and say you’ll get in touch when things calm down. If you really do find you like her, don’t respond to her goading opinions and change the subject. I sometimes have to trot out the old saw “no politics or money or religion conversations,” with a rueful laugh and a roll of the eyes.

  2. Are we to assume that they don’t know who you are with this blog when you write about them? Because I think you’ve taken care of the “I’m too busy to hang out” situation with that.

    I’ve been thinking for a while of writing a piece about how much I judge my friends’ parenting except that I’d have to post it somewhere secretly that they don’t know about. One of my closest friends hits her kids at least 10 times a day. I’m through with that. It’s sad that my little one asks about her children all of the time; he’ll probably never see them again. I don’t want him thinking that physical violence (even in the name of discipline) is the norm.

  3. Ugh – FL is not helping bring out the best in you. First you trash your neighbors for not being friendly to you (who can blame them)? Now you trash a woman who was trying to be nice to you. She might not be your style, but writing about her here will only insure that you get a bad reputation down there. I love the irony of you planning these game nights and dinner parties, when in reality you are alienating people and will likely not have anyone to invite.

    1. Stephanie, I’m not really sure why you’re even interested in making NEW friends when you have the reliable support, encouragement, and appreciation of Anon.

  4. Stephanie, you will always make friends in a difficult manner. And lucky for you, because the people who you will finally think of as “friends” will be the ones you can count on through hell and high water.

    Those were acquaintances, or acqueasiances, if you will.

  5. Ouch. You’re being “opinionated in a really aggressive way”. You may have alienated yourself from a wider group of friends you could make. When these gals find out about this post, every friend they have will know how you trashed them. I love you, Steph, but I think you went overboard on this one.

  6. I also wondered if these people, the neighbors & would-be friends/acquaintances know that you’re writing about them. As for the neighbor who almost ran Lucas down, she should see it in print, but the others might be understandably upset that you would publicize their parenting style where discipline is called for.

  7. My family had relatives that never disciplined their kids; they ran around like it was a playground at restaurants or in our house. The parents never said a word and it bothered ALL of us. There are times and places for play – a restaurant or someone else’s dining room are not those places. The result was a falling out with family. There were, of course, other issues involved, but this behaviour and lack of parenting (because in my opinion that is what that is) was the catalyst for a problem that became a large elephant in the room. In my case it was family, in yours it’s not. If it bothers you as much as it sounds like, don’t do it. You have enough stress moving to another state and raising twins that you don’t need to add this.
    P.S. Props to you! Sounds like you are really raising your kids with manners and I, for one, admire you for doing so.

  8. If I can’t stomach the mother, that’s the end of the playdate. Period. I also prefer the asshole moms who are all over their kids all the time. Mostly because I’m an asshole mom. Fortunately, I’ve found 1 friend who, though she isn’t as strict as me, is about as close as it comes and she’s fucking awesome as a person. We playdate frequently because of this. It’s just not fair to your family to have your kids play with wild children because they WILL start pulling that crap on you.

    and seriously – how could that mother actually be nonplussed about the staff hating them when they arrive??? I’m happy to say that the waiters at the places we frequent bicker over who gets us in their section because our kids don’t crush crackers all over the floor.

  9. All of this is so foreign to me. It’s like reading about a Florida that I have never heard of. It almost reminds me of an episode of Mad Men.

  10. I am a mom of a toddler (and have been reinforcing manners/good behavior since far before he could understand what I was saying) and I think part of the problem is the assumption that just because the other person is a mother of a similar-aged child that you (the general “you”) will click as friends or even acquaintances. Sure there might be common ground in the parenting experience but if you force yourself to put that aside and focus on whether you actually like this person that might weed out/screen out those parents who you wouldn’t be friends with sans the parent part. That’s what I’ve found to be true for me. That’s not to say I won’t play nicely in the sandbox with all the parents I see regularly at the playground and out and about -I will and I do, with pleasure -but actual friendship is another story.

  11. I actually really admire you putting it all out there–most people do gossip about these things, but aren’t upfront about them. Then again, I’m a pretty strict mom, and have a really hard time when we’re in a big group of children, and I’m the only one setting boundaries. I hope Florida gets better soon!

  12. Ah, friends, who needs em’? Seriously though, why does Steph have to mince words on her blog? I think she’s made it clear she won’t be in the woman’s company again, and she didn’t really name names.
    Who said you have to have play dates anyway? Can’t the twins just play with each other? I jest, but yeah, I know what you’re going through.

  13. I am sure Demi is probably and amalgamation of several mothers, sounds like she probably would be one of those people who would be appalled by “Demi” in print and not even recognize herself in the description.

  14. LMAO!!! We the non-DD’s would love to hang out with you, although we are all a bit afraid. We are willing to give you a chance and we do reprimand our children.

  15. Yes!! Thanks for making me feel better about thinking the same thing.
    It’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one who has trouble finding a good fit with mom friends. As a stay-at-home-parent, my schedule rarely meshes with friends who work a full week, and it seems (around here, anyway) staying home is limited to those with zero career options or families wealthy enough on a single income to have one parent not work outside the home OR inside it. Teaching manners and gluing pompoms either doesn’t happen or it’s outsourced to daycare.
    I just don’t have much overlap with moms who don’t expend effort on their own offspring, especially with my own kids right there beside me!
    Good luck finding families you AND your kids resonate with.

  16. A couple weeks ago I was in a similar situation at a luncheon. My 5-yr-old son wanted to go play with the other kids but they were acting like hyper puppies. I asked my son, “Is this a playground? He shook his head. “Please set a good example for how to behave.” He sighed at me but listened. The unruly children’s mother came up to me, said she loved my outfit and the scones I’d brought. I’m thinking, yes, thanks, but you do love your own kids enough to stop them from tearing up the place and teach them how to behave? The kind of woman I’d want as a friend wouldn’t notice my outfit or the food if her kids were misbehaving.

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