May 12, 2009

Hoping This Bird isn't Flocking with Feathers

It was so much easier having toddlers... when you picked your kids' friends.

Typically they were kids of friends of yours. You kind of guaranteed the 'good family' commonality.

They get to school and it starts to become more of a crapshoot.

In Kindergarten it's a bit easier still, other than not wanting your kid to hang out with the kid always on Time Out, for the most part, you still have your fingers on the pulse of who they hang with.

Get to middle school and groups have shaken out. Jocks are hanging with Jocks, cliques have formed and next thing you know... you're seriously unhappy with the kid your kid has chosen to bring home... too often.

The slacker.

The unmotivated kid who has parents that you'd not hang out with as an adult.

The kid always doing stupid shit and getting in trouble. Not big trouble, but trouble nonetheless, trouble that only grows with age.

You grit your teeth as their parents say to you, "Your son is such a good influence on my son..." as inside you're thinking, "I'm not raising frickin' Ghandi here. I need my kid to be with like kind."

Then you start to think, 'Wait... if my kid is hanging out with such a slacker, then what is that saying of MY kid?"

We have such high hopes for next year. Really. New kids. Different classes. New surroundings.

I told my husband, 'I didn't hang out with one dirtbag in high school."

And I didn't.

You look at the kids I hung out with and they became nutritionists, teachers, neuro-radiologists, nuclear engineers (Phd), businessmen, physical therapists, CPAs, artists, research scientists... and on and on... every one of them becoming successful in their own right, whether it be in business, family, or both.

And quite frankly, when I was in high school, I never doubted that any of these kids would succeed.

Never.

And I'm not saying it because a few of them read me. I'm dead on serious.

So I'm left wondering what type of kid my son is going to hang with. Is he going to hang with the kids who are smart and shooting high? Or is he going to hang with the slackers who are OK to do nothing but screw around, get in trouble, and shoot for gross mediocrity?

It's left my husband and I a bit frustrated tonight...

Posted by Boudicca at May 12, 2009 09:45 PM
Comments

Few things are harder to watch involving your kids growing up than to see them flock with the turkeys instead of soar with the eagles. And knowing there is little, if anything, you can do about it. Not when they become teenagers and simply have to learn to make their own choices, good and bad.

Posted by: diamond dave at May 12, 2009 10:43 PM

I'm so frustrated and hope this is just a middle school thing.

Case in point, there is a kid in their school who has been nothing but trouble. But for odd circumstances out of our admin's control, he has not been expelled. As one teacher put it 'Ringo has made peace with him'. What she doesn't know is that my son thinks this kid is hysterical, really funny and smart. Meanwhile, I heard that if the teachers were going to have a vote of 'kid most likely to be a homocidal psychopath' this kid would get the award.

Going to the same HS next year.

Love that.

My kid thinks he's 'funny and smart'. Great. I understand keeping your enemies close. I get that there are some kids you just 'want' on your side.

But... I'm not happy.

Posted by: Bou at May 13, 2009 05:53 AM

that sucks
see also: the punk kid my 12 yo is kissing in between classes.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at May 13, 2009 07:49 AM

Ok, Bou, I love you - you know it - and I love your family. But, I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second.

I was the "good kid" who hung out with all those kids - the slackers, the druggies, the bad seeds. Etc. . . Yet, here I am today, I like to think I'm fairly successful. Hell, I'm about to start a trial against one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

It isn't who your kids have as friends, it is who they have as parents and family. You were a good kid. We aren't all good kids, but we all have something good inside (almost all) and sometimes it takes a kid - to point that out. The bad kid in my class - really was very smart, very funny, and very interesting . . .

Most of my class from highschool made nothing of themselves, whether they were the good kids or the bad. Indeed, the worst one - the same one I wrote about the other day - rose above it all and is very successful. Knowing him back then, our teachers wrote him off as well - seriously wrote him off . . . .indeed, I'd wager a bet they'd wrote me off too. Except, despite all that, I went to an Ivy League, worked my way through Law School and I'm getting it done and so is my slacker, drug dealing, no account, bad seed - high school boyfriend.

For most kids - 14 is just too soon to write them off. High School is about taking one test at a time, the school tests, and then the real ones - the life tests. You find yourself and your tolerance for others there. It is refreshing that kids can still see through a lot of the labels and just be friends, no matter waht. It changes as we get older.

Oh, and as parents, you are never going to like every kid your little ones do (the little girl who proclaimed she was marrying my Boy comes to mind . . .) Because if you did, the kids would stop liking them out of spite ;)

Just a thought.

Posted by: oddybobo at May 13, 2009 09:36 AM

Bou: The truly "bad" ones ... tend not to remain friends after a while. For the most part, our oldest son has had friends I like. There have been two over the years that I didn't want him involved with, because I knew they had drug issues. We didn't deny him the opportunity to visit with them, but we insisted that it be done at our house where we could keep closer tabs on things. Those friendships dissolved of their own accord.

Posted by: PeggyU at May 13, 2009 11:46 AM

I'm with Peggy on that.

Posted by: JihadGene at May 13, 2009 12:18 PM

At this point consider it a learning experience. So long as 'slacker kid' isn't getting your son into trouble or his regular behavior isn't changing, things are okay.

Hardest part when they are teens is that we all remember what WE did back then. That is what makes us crazy when watching our own kids... the "I never did that" syndrome. LOL.

Well, no, you didn't do that, but your sons aren't you, nor are they your husband in small form. They are themselves. They will be fine.

It's also a good opportunity to discuss things... You can talk to him about a behavior of Slacker Kid (SK) and say, "What do you think will be the end result of what SK is doing?"

Do you think it's a good idea that SK does "this"?

That kind of thing. NEVER belittle SK, it will make your son defensive. Try to make it more analytical. Use it to make them think about successful behavior and behavior that will get you nowhere.

BTW - my daughter's first college roomie - a good friend of hers from High School. Even went with her and her parents on a vacay once. This girl got to college and immediately fell in with a crowd doing drugs. She managed to stay in school for the entire year and do... nothing... just partying and drugs.

Note that my daughter was merely annoyed by this (she ended up running phone interference with the mother and hated it) but it never affected her school work or what she has done since then. She even commented on how stupid and what a waste it was. They parted as friends when the girl got kicked out of the school, then lost touch. Last we heard she was still partying and had a job as a sales clerk in a local mall. My daughter has a good job and a condo and is doing well.

As you can see, it's not the friends, it's how your sons deal with them. It can also be a great learning experience for later in life.

Posted by: Teresa at May 13, 2009 03:56 PM

I think the concern becomes... who rises above and who does not? Does he have the motivation to hang with the slackers, but rise above it? Does he have the ability to spot trouble and truly avoid it?

I don't know.

The problem is, my son has already been labeled by some because of his association with SK (as Teresa put it). I've told him, 'Does it not bother you that people just assume you're a lazy shiftless jerk who will cause trouble because of SK?"

And he went camping with this kid once and this kid went around to all the other tents and pulled them down and nearly set one on fire. This was just a couple months ago.

I'm not about to let this kid AND my kid out of my sight... which fits in with what Peggy said, they can hang at my house, if they are going to hang.

It's all good solid advice and it all makes sense. It does. But the question as a parent becomes... does my kid actually have what it takes to rise above when hanging with those, who are content to suck from the bottom of the pond?

In all honesty, I think homicidal maniac boy is going to do great things in life, as crazy as it sounds. I've had this discussion with people. I think he's going to do great things, marry a great girl, have kids and be a great father. I really do.

I just think his path to get to his destination is going to be sucky and I'd just as soon my son not travel that path with him... ;-)

Posted by: bou at May 13, 2009 05:12 PM

And that, dearie, is what makes you a great parent. ;)

Posted by: oddybobo at May 13, 2009 07:48 PM

What Oddy said. :-)

Of course the worst part of "will he make it" is that there is no way to know until they get there. I was scared the entire time my kids were growing up "will they do something incredibly stupid?" "will they decide it's not worth it to try?" "what will we do if they get into real trouble following the wrong person?"

We were lucky (as any parents are who have kids that make it to adulthood!) and we had smart kids who knew what they wanted.

I think the best you can do is what you've done. Give them a great start. Be there for them. And let them make some mistakes. Your boys are so lucky to have you and your husband to look up to and see what life can give them if they work for it. They may decide to slack for a while - but it won't be for long.

And remember - once high school is done - no one will be judging them by the company they kept then. :-)

Posted by: Teresa at May 13, 2009 10:27 PM

Umm...I'm just trying to NOT see the link between this post and the 'attitudes' post.

There are kids I would rather my children not hang with....I think every parent has that situation.
My children know I
a) dislike the kid or
b) barely tolerate the kid they hang out with.
But the BIGGER question is this- how confident are you in YOUR child and in what you've taught him?

Posted by: Rave at May 14, 2009 09:28 AM

Wow- I didn't mean to sound mean...seriously...

Posted by: Rave at May 14, 2009 09:30 AM

CAL is having serious friend issues. We were hoping for the fresh start this year but it only became worse. I am at my witz end with the entire mess. I have tried talking to parents, teachers, and principals. I know my son is not perfect but I have spent a lot of time with some of these kids and they are far from perfect. I don't know why he is such a bully magnet. If there is a pompous snot nose little brat out there he will harass my kid.

Posted by: Lukie at May 14, 2009 01:47 PM