Thursday, September 2, 2010


My daughter Olivia got off the bus, for the second day in a row, crying. A girl she has had problems with since kindergarten had started up with her again. She made her feel bad on the bus, and embarrassed. She said, loudly, "Olivia hates her life". Everyone laughed. My daughter cried. This same girl has been a constant name in our life, since Olivia's school career began. I wrote a note to her kindergarten teacher regarding this "student" two years ago, which went nowhere. I lay in bed last night thinking bad thoughts about a second grader.
Olivia is a great little girl. She has her moments, believe me. But she is no bully. Some days, she would come home from school, and she was happy, mentioning the fun she had with "D". I would ask what had happened? Was "D" being nice, and she would look happy, and tell me that they were friends again. I told Olivia to be careful, as "D" had been cruel to her in the past. Yet Olivia would seem happy to be friends with her again. Hopeful that this time, it would stick. Hopeful that she would not be made fun of anymore, and maybe, if she tried hard enough, she could be "D"'s best friend.
I had a parting of the ways with a "friend" of my own this summer. It was just as school ended. This friend and myself had nothing, I mean nothing in common. She had grown children, and was on her second marriage, and was over 10 years older than myself. Yet, she was funny, and we had some really great times together. But there was always something inside of me that knew the friendship had an expiration date on it. She had a close friend that I was not very fond of, but I was forced into a lot of social situations with. I tried hard, as I too wanted to be liked. I want to have friends. I want to belong.
 These women, I noticed, did a lot of accounting. They were always talking about who had who over last. Who owed who drinks. Who owed who dinner. It made me nervous. I began keeping track in my head the amount of times that we had been over their homes for drinks, or for dinner. I began to take a tally one day, and realized that we owed them a night. It was a lot of pressure. Kids to feed, plus the parents. And the drinking. they all drank. Grey Goose. Not cheap. We invited them over. I shopped, and cooked. We spent money we didn't have. I was so stressed counting up what we had spent on this one night that we "owed" everybody. I kept thinking about what we were going to have to go without, and the bills that were not going to be paid, to provide this payback.
The one thing that I would not pay for was Grey Goose. I made David buy a cheap vodka. We'll make them Cosmopolitains, I thought, and took out my lovely martini glasses. I even curled lime peels. I cooked all day, making wonderful appetizers, down to all the vinaigrette's. I lit candles, and cleaned and cleaned, and made everything perfect.
My friends arrived. We had music playing. Everybody ooohed and ahhhed. Then the friend of my friend that I had never been fond of, asked for a martini, with onions. I cringed. David made it, and I saw her take a sip. She made a terrible face. She looked at our mutual friend, and stuck her tongue out. She then proceeded to make fun of the drink.
Everything was a blur after that. All of my hard work, and my food, and candles, and my necklace, and lip gloss, and perfume, and cute little snacks for the kids was for nothing. All of the money we spent trying to please these people..the sacrifice we made, to step out of our skins for one evening, and pretend to be people we were not, was a giant, terrible, waste. I felt foolish. I felt like an outsider. I felt sorry for myself, and what I had forced David and I to do.
When Olivia came off the bus on Tuesday crying, I felt her pain. I understood her wanting to be friends with the mean girl. I felt her sadness and insecurity. I told her that if "D" started with her again, she should tell her to shut her mouth.
Yesterday, she did.

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