On friendships.

I don't make friends easily.

A healthy dose of skepticism and general distrust of strangers combined with an extremely introverted personality and an unapproachable demeanor make me really, really hard to get to know.

People have to really work hard to be my friend.  

Having said that, I think I'm totally worth it.  Once I'm in your corner and I'm convinced you are in mine, I will go to the ends of the earth and back for you, and then go there again just to make sure.   Most of the people I consider friends have been in my life for years - decades even - and as such, I'm fairly out of practice in the art of making new friends or getting used to new people in my life.

Now that Zachary is getting older, he is starting to form real bonds and friendships with people, and I'm so clueless about it that I don't know how to help him along. 

When he was a toddler and then a preschooler, I was totally in charge of choosing his friends, therefore, his friends were ALWAYS the children, neighbors, cousins, grandchildren and friends of MY friends, and of course they were all kids I liked.

When he started kindergarten, any time I was around his class for volunteer duty I was so pleased to see that the kids - for the most part - all played together without grouping off much.  Or if they did group off, it was really fluid with people coming and going whenever they felt like it and it was all fine and good with everyone else.

Now he's nearly eight, though, and things are starting to change.

He's a loving, open kid, and he just wants to play his games and ride his bike and have fun.  And he really likes to be around other people ALL. THE. TIME, which is a huge drain on me and my limited social resources.  I really love that he seems so open to all different kinds of people and situations, but for the first time, he is developing actual friendships with other kids who have similar interests to him.  Some of these kids are people I know and love and welcome into my house and my son's life, and some... are not.

 It's really difficult for me - control freak that I am - to step back and let him choose friends that I personally don't like.  And maybe it's wrong of me to so harshly judge these kids, but I do.  

I've had to have conversations with Zachary recently about how real friends always have each other's back, and about how real friends don't threaten to withdraw friendships when something doesn't go their way, and about how real friends would never use their words to hurt you.  He seems to understand and grasp these things, but it doesn't stop him from wanting to play with the kids (ok, it's really mostly ONE kid) who do them.  While I certainly do not allow the kid(s) to act this way when I'm around, the truth is I send Zachary away from me for the biggest part of the day and I have zero ability to access what he's doing during this time.

I didn't expect to be having meaningful conversations about friendships with my second grader. 

He's trying to learn how to navigate these tricky waters of forming bonds with others, and all I want to do is draw him back into me and protect him so he doesn't ever have to be in a position to get his feelings hurt.

He's learning how to make friends, and I'm so bad at it that I feel like I often do more harm than good when I try to help him along.  My instincts scream one thing, but my more rational brain tells me to leave it alone.  He has to be allowed to choose his own friends and I may have to just suck it up and deal with it, even if I'm not thrilled with all his choices.

What do you do when your kids choose friends that you don't like? 

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