Disposable friendships…

We were friends for twenty years. Twenty years of birthdays, dinners, movies, outings, laughter, and games. And we stopped being friends over an internet meme.

We’d been friends for six years. Our kids played together, we went out for lunches, we could chat for hours. And we stopped being friends because I suggested a dog trainer before abandoning her dog.

We’d been friends for three years. Just online friends, as people say, but we messaged regularly and often. The last I heard was a message “I’m going to take my medication” then a notice that I could not respond to her conversation. She blocked me, so I heard, because I reminded her in some way of her ex. I have no idea how. The day before she’d told me I was like a sister to her. There was no warning.

I was chatting with a friend of mine a few days ago and she commented on how much friendships seem to break these days. I had to agree. My parents have friends that go back for 50/60 years. My longest friendship, one in which we actually talk more than once a year, is now fifteen.

Somehow we’ve reached a point in our society where friends have to agree about everything. And, while I agree that some lines that are deal breakers, some are just plain ridiculous. I had a friend block me once because I prefer door to door delivery over big box mail services. I refuse to believe this is a hard line ethical issue.

At some point we need to give in on the minor issues. We might not agree with religious beliefs or eating habits. We might not approve of all parenting styles. But as long as no one’s getting hurt, is that the hill we want to die on?

And, as much as I love the internet, I have to wonder how much of the disposable nature of friendship is because of the ease of online communication. You can delete someone from your life without ever seeing the hurt on their face. It’s a lot easier than saying “I don’t want to be friends with you” and dealing with the aftermath. Every friendship of mine that’s ended has been through social media. Cold, clean, swift, and remorseless.

I went through my block list a few days ago and unblocked about thirty people, none of whom I know, all of whom had irritated me on Facebook at some point. Chances are I’ll never even see them again. The next step is unblocking the two people I do know. I have no idea if I’ll see them online or not, we don’t (as far as I know) have mutual friends. But it’s a start.

I don’t have any answers but, what I do know, is life’s too short to end friendships over trivial matters. Friendship is too important for that.

P and Jeremy

P and Emma sharing a quiet conversation.

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Happiness is…

Happiness is… spending time with Jeremy, either playing Mario Kart or swimming, and just having fun. We’ve been going to a different pool lately, one owned by the same landlord but in a nearby building. Jeremy loves it and I love that it’s warmer than ours.

1221 pool

“I’ll race you Mom!”

Happiness is… picking out the perfect presents for Jeremy for Christmas. Yes, I know I shop early. Yes, I know there’s still 130 more days left and it’s still only August. It’s just that Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year and they really will love  all of them.

Happiness is… watching Jeremy’s happiness at finally buying the laptop they’ve been wanting for years. And seeing their confidence bloom again. I’ve watched for several years as Jeremy hid much of their feminine side and today they casually bought a pink and white laptop bag because it’s “perfect” and a hot pink keyfinder button for their keychain.

new laptop

“I am smiling!”

Happiness is… needing to work on a suicide prevention plan and asking friends permission to add them to a contact sheet… then getting so many friends volunteer it might turn into a contact booklet. I don’t know if my friends realize how much this means to me, how much it feels like I’ve been wrapped up in their caring.

Happiness is… going for a whirlwind vacation in just under two weeks and listening to Jeremy chatter about it several times a day. We have so much planned from the butterfly conservatory, to the waterpark, to the antique aerial car over the Niagara whirlpool; I’m not sure how we’re going to fit in sleep.

fallsview waterpark

“I can’t wait until we get there Mom. What do you think we should do first?”

Happiness is… waking up to two adorable kittens snuggled beside me. Their antics amuse me and warm my heart every single day.

Smudge relaxing small

So much adorable in such a small package!

Happiness is having so many things to be happy about 🙂

Friendship woes…

The good news is Jeremy’s at a friend’s house. He went directly there from school and won’t be home until bedtime. Sadly that’s the end of the good news.

The reason Jeremy’s there is because his friend P is moving eight hours away this month; Jeremy’s hoping to get him set up on Skype so they can keep in contact. So it’s great for today but will stink in two more weeks. Jeremy doesn’t have any other friends.

Then there’s Jeremy’s birthday party, which was supposed to happen this Saturday. He’s been planning it since shortly after Christmas. They were going go-karting then coming back here to swim and have pizza and cake. The operative word there is ‘were’. Jeremy initially planned on only having P here then decided that one kid wasn’t enough for a party. This brought M, a casual friend from class, onto the list. I suggested inviting one of the kids from his youth group, the one he sometimes meets on the bus, but he refused. He felt two kids were enough.

This would be fine except P’s brother is having his birthday party on the same day so P can’t go. Jeremy says there’s no point in having a birthday party without P and I can’t exactly force him to have a party. I did try, once again, to have him invite the kid from youth group but he refused and is refusing to go to youth group entirely.

Two weeks ago he headed off to the group. He barely talked to me on the phone en-route because he’d met up with the kid on the bus and was busy chatting. I was thrilled. Then he got home, soggy with pool water and scowling. They’d gone for a swim with another group, one ironically enough from the complex we used to live. There he’d run into his old best friend, a kid he’d hung out with since Junior Kindergarten, who’s been camping with us a couple of times. He did his best to ignore Jeremy entirely, which is something that didn’t surprise me because he’s been trying to ignore Jeremy for several years now. Then Jeremy told me all the kids in his group (other than the kid from the bus) are ignoring him as well. I don’t go there so have no idea what’s going on.

Jeremy assured me he’d be fine socially without this group; he’ll just find an online group with a forum and make friends there. There are so many ways this is not an answer. He needs real friends.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jeremy’s autistic. his social skills are not the best and he tends to drive a conversation right into the ground, refusing to leave it. But he does try. Shortly before the last group, he took apart a broken TV he found out back and retrieved the speakers from it. Somehow he managed to connect the speakers to a volume dial, a battery pack, and a USB connection, then he plugged his MP3 player into it. The thing is a tangled mess of wires but it works. Apparently the kids declared it to be smelly and gross then refused to go near it, which was a huge disappointment to him.

I sent a letter to the youth group leader to see if anything can be salvaged there. Otherwise I’m at a loss. We’re looking at the third summer in a row where Jeremy’s done nothing but sit at home the whole time I’m at work, refusing even to go downstairs to the supervised outdoor swimming pool. Another whole summer where I’m his only friend.