Yesterday my “Baby Girl” turned 14. My precious chubby-faced giggler has metamorphosed into this long-legged, glamor-chic young woman! Yesterday when my husband dropped her off at school, he found a small mob of friends waiting for her to wish her happy birthday. She came home wearing the cutest little t-shirt that her friends had given her adorned with birthday wishes, lovingly crafted with glow-in-the-dark puffy paint. They are good friends. When I was in middle school, I already had the mentality that I had to fight to keep good friends and since I rarely had anything important to offer, I lived in the fear of losing my friends if someone else came along with a golden carrot.
I shared with you, last week about doing chores for change and I remember hoarding that money until I really needed it. I had no specific goal in mind, I just knew that one day, I would need it and I was careful not to squander it on candy or anything like that. Being a good saver has been in me FOREVER! Because you just never know when you might need it and woe to the person who wasted it on fun-dips or tart ‘n tiny’s.
One Sunday, I got into a battle of words with two other girls from our church over who got to be “Church-Best Friends” with Mel K. (When you are a kid involved in church, you usually have a “church BFF” and a “School BFF.”) I knew, in my heart of hearts that Mel K. was MY Church- BFF, not theirs and found myself both shocked and angered at their obvious ignorance and bravado to declare otherwise. Mel K. was super-duper cool. She was the first of my friends to get a caboodle AND a crimping iron so obviously, I adored being around her. Her parents had one of those HUGE televisions that used a projector to display the image (in the early 80’s!) She lived in a very glamorous part of Fullerton in a two-story house. Her bedroom had a canopy bed and French door-type windows with sheer coverings. She was kind and never made me feel “less than.” If I could have hoarded her in my change drawer, I would’ve.
I spent the rest of the week, simmering over the thought of these girls thinking that they had a chance at being Mel K.’s best friend. The more I labored over it, however, the security I’d previously had in the solidity of my BFF-ness with Mel K. was beginning to waver. By Saturday, I was down-right anxious that I was about to lose the most important friendship of my childhood so I decided to head it off before the she “left me”. I was resolute to give her my most precious savings. Now, in my mind it was more innocent than it sounds. It wasn’t about buying her friendship with money because the money didn’t necessarily have monetary value as much as it had sentimental value. It was more about giving her the effort of saving and making a statement that she was more important than anything of value I owned. The money was a good fistful of ultra-shiny dimes and nickels with a few quarters in the mix ~ maybe somewhere in the vicinity of 6 bucks.
(This story is so dumb, I am nervous-laughing all over the place at myself for even sharing it). Come Sunday morning, the change was warm in my hands. I pulled Mel K. aside and stretched out my arm to her. Since she didn’t know what was coming, and since she really was the nicest girl ever, she looked at my fist and complimented me on the ring I was wearing. When I finally got the money transferred, she was taken aback but thanked me kindly. The PLRWM was soaring again. She went into her parents Sunday School Class and showed them what I had given her. It didn’t even take one minute for her mother to come out for a little chat with me. With the love, gentleness and diplomacy that only a mother can bring, she sat me down on the stairs and told me how much Mel K. loved me and our friendship and that it was not appropriate to give friends money as gifts. She made sure to affirm my position as well as teach me an important lesson. I did walk away with a slight yuckiness in my gut but the fact that I had expressed my adoration for my friend and was affirmed in that friendship by her mom greatly outweighed the embarrassment. Of course NOW I am sooooo embarrassed!
Yesterday, when we were leaving Disneyland (Birthday fun) my daughter asked me who my “tertiary” friends were. She just wanted to use the word tertiary but the question sparked a discussion and a subsequent list of friends who are either primary, secondary or tertiary and in that I was reminded – not only am I beyond blessed with friends, but I don’t really live in the fear of losing any of them and there is a real peace in that certainty.