A Manifesto to Friends
Dear Friends, I love you all. I am glad we are friends. I love to help you even more than I love to be helped by you.
But I am not your shrink, your nanny, and your only source of entertainment. Sometimes I have to do things for my own family instead of be at your beck and call for babysitting. If I can help, I will, but if I’ve already made clear it’s a busy day for me, do yourself a favour and stop trying to talk me into it or guilt me into it. Neither will make me want to help you in the future. If I do babysit your children please respect my time and actually show up when you said you would. Not an hour or two later.
It is not my job to feed your children every time I see them. You’re the parent. I may do so if it is snacktime but we don’t have a constant stream of food coming out of our kitchen. We eat at mealtimes and snacktimes. Not only can I not afford to feed everyone who walks through my doors at any time of day, but I don’t think it’s healthy to be constantly eating.
It is not my job to clean up after your children everytime I see them. If you have a pattern of leaving my place in haste because the children are suddenly out of control then you may want to either rethink your departure time or not let your children dump every basket of toys I own. It’s rude to expect that I’d be happy to spend two hours after you’re gone cleaning up instead of doing what I had planned, just for the honour of having your family over.
If your children are aggressive, please don’t allow them to act out in my home without repercussion. Yes, I know, we can’t control what our children do, but we can control what we do afterwards, and doing nothing is not appropriate. It does take a village to raise a child and I am happy to be part of the village, but I cannot and will not replace you as the primary point person. You’re the parent.
I do not want to go for a walk with you, so please don’t try to meet up with me and make it a regular thing. Walking is the only time I get where no one talks to me. I want to go where I want, for as long as I want, and as fast as I want. I do not want to stop every block because your child is throwing a fit, or hungry, or just doesn’t want to be in the stroller and you don’t know how to say no. I do not want to slow down so that our strollers can fit side-by-side on the sidewalks not designed for two strollers. I don’t even want conversation. I’m sorry that you are lonely, but I am not.
If I ask you every time you come over to please remove your shoes, don’t ask me to make an exception for your toddler because he doesn’t want to remove his shoes and you don’t want to deal with it. I don’t care if you think my rule is stupid. It’s my house, my rules.
I’m not interested in your condescending offers to help me organize my home. Thanks, though. You probably meant well and it came across wrong.
Also, I don’t ever want to hear another person try to tell me why I should buy instead of rent, or why a house is better than an apartment. That’s not being a good friend, that’s lording over me what you have that I don’t.
My friendships are very important to me, but in my priorities my home, family, job, and other responsibilities take precedent.
To Drive the Cold Winter Away
This is our eighth Christmas in this cold, drafty apartment. The heat has never worked right, but last year was marginally better after I redid the weatherstripping around the front door. (How do I weatherstrip the sliding glass doors that lead to the patio? There is a visible gap where the two doors meet.) Our heater has been totally out since Friday night. (Yes, Friday night. AFTER the repaiman’s office is closed.) Hopefully on today we can get this fixed. Hopefully it will not come hand in hand with a rent increase. Hopefully the cold winter is short. I’d like one cozy Christmas memory in this place.
There is one upside to being so cold. It finally gave me the impetus I needed to air my grievances so I can complete my festivus celebrations and get on with the rest of the season.
A happy festivus to you all! (Also, since this took so long to write: Happy Hannukah! My Mormon children join you in solidarity as we sing the dreidle song ad naseum and eat our homemade applesauce. I thought of making latkes, but I finally wore myself down enough to catch this terrible cold. Maybe I can find us some donuts.)