Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On friendships and circumstances


Ryan turns six in about ten weeks, in January next year. Next year, some of his friends will be starting primary school and others will be making serious preparations for their turn the following year. Six year olds doing serious stuff.

Already, many of the kids I know are doing four or more enrichment classes, on top of attending kindergarten. The exact choices differ but it is almost a rule that every five year old has a combination of music, language, sport and art/dance classes. Some are doing stuff like math or phonics or some sort of brain training. It is a culture, deeply ingrained. The preschooler's version of tuition.

At this point in time, I find myself going in the opposite direction. Ryan goes for a swimming class once a week and he has golf in his preschool once a week (which I predict he will ask to drop next term). He has no other structured classes. We have, in the past, explored a few other structured classes - not many, and they are all documented on the blog. I guess we didn't feel the need to continue with those nor have we felt an urgency to pick up another class for Ryan.

Now, this is not a post about who is right and who is wrong. Each family is entitled to make their own decisions and, given the same circumstances, people may still differ in what they think is best. We can have opposing opinions and still be good friends.

No, this post is about something much less obvious to some but very real to me. It's about friendships. Inasmuch as I am comfortable being different from the rest, I sometimes wonder how it will affect our social relationships in the future.

I've mentioned the enrichment classes but it's not the only thing. Ryan leads a very different life from many of his friends and we, as his parents, sometimes make very different decisions from other parents. 

What this means is that we have little in common with most of our friends.

I'm referring to people with whom we became friends because of our kids. When our kids were younger, we had everything in common. We were all on the same journey - from sharing our birth stories to shopping for children's items to potty training. It didn't matter if some of us were older, and others were younger; some were employed and others were not; some were richer and others were poorer; or some were more educated and others were less. We had no problems bonding because we were going through the same experience.

Now, it's looking a lot different. Well, at least from my side of the street it is. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is together on the other side. Like I mentioned, their kids all do the same type of classes; they even go to the same enrichment centres. They're all part of a culture, part of the same experience. And we're not.

So what will happen next year? I don't know. Of course there will be new friendships and new experiences but what of our present friends?

I do hope that our present friendships stay alive and well, despite the different lifestyles. Even though these friendships came into existence because of our kids, I would like to think that these friendships go beyond our kids. Circumstances can make friendships but friendships need not be limited to circumstances, right? I hope that's right but I guess time will tell.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi
I cannot help but decide to post a comment here. I went through that initial friendship stage where we had a lot in common. then comparisons came and most of the friends were focused on their own toddlers achievements. Parenting styles were different which was fine but friendships started to be less sincere and the things in common became so little.
On your last paragraph ... Friendships might last if it's a sincere conversation one can have with another and of course making that effort to bond otherwise people end up moving on.

Pinkie Pirate said...

So true! Friendships can be "in-the-moment" or they can last forever. Let's hope we get more of the latter!

Anonymous said...

Hi Leona : is Ryan going to a local primary sch?
Please read http://www.channelnewsasia.com/mobile/singapore/more-parents-enrolling/1386658.html

Anonymous said...

I was very close to a friend of mine when life was just simple, babyhood- but as the kids got older, she became so boastful and proud and sorry to say snobbish over her kids achievements .. We are still friends but def not like before. Whenever I speak of my son, the conversation always ends with how her kids are. ;( oh well.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a war going on when it comes to the primary one registration time. Everyone wants a place in the bestest school! Priority is given to siblings, then to kids of staff of the school, then to kids whose parents are volunteers, by the phase 2c, or last phase, there are only the neighborhood schools left. It's so ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

It happens and I learnt to not share and there's distance in the friendship

XH said...

Hi,

Are you a part of any whatsapp chat group for mothers and have you ever experienced that there is no common topic?
Would you leave the group or stay on?

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi XH, yes I have been part of a whatspp chat and yes I have left before. On the other hand, I am also part of other chat groups where I have nothing to say most of the time. There is no one answer; it depends on how comfortable you are. People join WA chat groups for many different reasons. I guess, if you feel that you are not able to contribute to the discussion or that you have no interest in the topics or that the group doesn't benefit from you being there, then, well, I guess the question would then be, not whether you should leave but rather, why are you still there? If you have a reason to stay, stay. If you don't, go. Hope that helps.

MieVee @ MummysHomeschool.com said...

Hihi Leona… what a great sharing that really struck a chord in me. My family is also rather atypical in our circle. And when other families' weekends are filled with enrichment activities, it's hard to catch up at all.

I've decided that for those new friends whom I made due to kids, our kids need not be friends. I'd just continue catching up with those mummies, even without kids around.

I've at least one other new friend who's looking forward to our kids growing up a little more, so that we can have more me-time. Life and friendships should certainly be more than kids.

May your 2015 be filled with happiness! :)

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