I never realized how much a mom thinks about her kids' friends. Before I got myself into this parenting mess, I knew that I was going to have to oversee feeding, love, hygiene, self-image, education, religion and general well roundedness. But I didn't really think that being aware of friend choices were that big a deal. I'm not sure why that didn't show up on my radar. After all, my friends are the most important thing in the world to me. Right after family and flour/butter/sugar/chocolate.
Anyway, I've been reminded of things that I knew about friends 15 years ago but have since forgotten. I know that it is impossible to pick your kids' friends. And extreme caution is necessary when you decide to use the words: "You may not be friends with this person anymore." You have one shot, maybe two at using this phrase on your kids and having it carry any weight. Any more than that, and it becomes a dare, not a command. So I've narrowed down 3 traits that I will forbid to be defining characteristics in my kids' friends.
3. Kids that are preoccupied with sex
And that's it. Every other vice is fair game. (I know that vandalism might seem weird, but if a kid thinks it is hilarious to throw rocks through a window, they are hiding a host of other problems that you really want your kid to stay away from. ) I understand how influential friends are so I don't want to take any chances with liars, vandals, or sex weirdos. But it is my responsibility to vaccinate my kids against any other bad behavior through good parenting.
Okay, now I realize that there are plenty of bad kids out there who don't have any problems with the three vices I've selected. And different parents will come up with different lists of things that they want to avoid. But I would like to give one piece of advice when you are making your list of damning traits.
Don't cast out the foul mouthed kid.
Yes, there is a chance that the kids with a bad mouth is just an idiot who replaces normal words with bad words, but that kid is harmless. Dum dums are harmless, unless your kid is dumb too, and then you have a problem. But it has been my experience that there is a better chance that the swearing kid is passionate and loyal. They also probably have some impulse control issues, but I think we can all admit, that it's fun to have a wild card at the party.
I'd like to site Shea's friend Sam as an example. Sam has taught Shea half the swear words she knows. (Her dad taught her the other half but one seems to remember that fact. They only remember the time I screamed DAMN CHICKEN NUGGET at my kids in 105 degree weather after a 7 hour car ride.) Shea has complained about Sam's foul mouth. I feel like I have done my job by teaching Shea to ask Sam not to use those words around her, but that is as much as I have interfered. Then yesterday, Shea had her heart broken. Her little boyfriend Max, the cutest boy in the 5th grade, the one who gave her a heart necklace for Christmas and held her hand at the ice rink, broke up with her. Of course not face to face. No way. Obviously he told one of his friends to tell one of her friends that they were breaking up. Shea didn't take the news well. She was too upset to eat her lunch, and she spent recess crying. Thank goodness for Sam. She wasted no time, she marched up to Max, got in his face, and with her New York Jewish accent, called him a "sack of sh$%." She told him that he was a 'f*c%$#g moron' and a bunch of other stuff. I wasn't there, but I'm sure it was comforting, consoling, amazing.
It reminded me of my own friend Betsy. She used terrible language, but she provided me with hours of entertainment and is as loyal as they come. I remember one time she used the eff word in the same sentence as the words 'football field,' and it triggered a super sized desk throwing tantrum for 3 football players in our English class. Legendary. Another time, in seminary, she turned to me and in an audible voice, muttered, "This guy is such a damn liar," about the teacher. My reaction 'drove the spirit away' and my parents got a phone call. And I would say that no one should ever accuse a CES teacher of making stuff up but . . . . . . . And once, I was stranded in Provo, and Betsy drove two hours to come get me. She burst through the door of my apartment with a string of expletives regarding all BYU students. She deeply offended my roommates. But I loved that cursing Kappa with all my heart. I also knew that it would be in my best interest to stay on Betsy's good side. A lesson her poor ex-husband had to learn the hard way. Because when the cheater came clean; within hours of confession; his boss had been called, his bank account emptied, his car sold and he was doubled over on the ground from a sever blow to the groin.
*a girl pooping on the East High football field is not vandalism, it's just plain funny.