Before you jump on me, let me say two things at the outset. Actually, three. First, I’m not using names. Second, my column runs in many places, but not in my hometown, so the chances of people recognizing themselves are, for better or worse, small to none. Third, I know there are plenty of bad fathers, too. It’s just that children need at least one decent parent, and the reality is that most of them are raised primarily by their mothers, so having a bad one is, well, particularly bad.
When my kids were young, I used to write a column every year on Mother’s Day thanking the “other mothers,” the ones you can call at the last minute to pick up your child when you get stuck at work or in traffic, the ones who volunteer for the activities that some of us find impossible due to work demands or being baking challenged, the ones who step in with the Band-Aid or the helping hand without even being asked.
This is not that column.
The incident that prompted this column happened last Saturday night, when one of my daughter’s former close friends celebrated her 17th birthday – and my daughter was not invited. The reason she wasn’t invited was a boy. Said boy had been my daughter’s first boyfriend. It lasted six months. Such is teenage life.
What should not be teenage life is to find one of your best friends “hooking up” with him literally within hours (before or after, we’re not sure) of said breakup, particularly when the boy is online trashing my daughter, one of this girl’s supposed best friends. Not surprisingly, this new relationship has splintered the group of best friends that my daughter has been part of for years, most of them since nursery school. I discussed it with one of the “other mothers,” the kind I used to write about every year, and we had both reached the same conclusion. The girl in question has a terrible mother.
You would recognize her in a minute. She refuses to look her age, which isn’t that old, given that she married a man 20 years her senior when she must have been in her early 20s, but is still too old to dress the way she does. Said man is, not surprisingly, about to marry someone who was her age then. He is also, not surprisingly, rich and short and fat.
Not the mother. She looks like a beauty queen and dresses like a teenager. At school functions, where all the mothers show up in dowdy dresses or workingwoman pantsuits, she’ll be in white jeans so tight and so low that her thong underwear shows. The tops tend to be even worse, or better, depending on whether you consider school functions to be an audition for Playboy centerfolds. In our brief conversations in the past, she has always told me how proud I must be of my daughter, not for any of the good reasons that do make me proud, but because she had such a “cute” boyfriend, which her daughter didn’t. I could only imagine what she said to her daughter, who tries to compete with her and can’t. It was clearly not: friendship comes first.
I feel bad for her daughter. Most of the group, forced to choose, dumped her. For her birthday, they agreed to come, but only if the boy didn’t. It was a perfect opportunity to put the group back together by inviting everybody. Her mother should have told her.
It’s not just a matter of parties and friends, sadly. Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. The same applies to mothers. Even the bad mothers are not so bad when kids are little. With teenagers, it’s another story.
An old friend noticed her son behaving differently after he started at a new school. She did something that would have made her furious when she was his age, but shows the difference between being a kid and a parent. She searched his room and found drugs. Then she saved her kid’s life. But that isn’t the point of this story.
She knew he wasn’t slipping into hell by himself. So she called the mothers of his two best friends and told them. One immediately searched her son’s room, found all kinds of things that shouldn’t have been there and swept into action. The other castigated my friend for not respecting her son’s privacy.
I guess my daughter’s former friend is lucky. She just lost her friends, not her life.
©2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.