Wednesday, June 03, 2009

How to Make Friends

One of the hardest things about moving up here has been starting over. I mean, not knowing anyone. At the Middle House, one time, I realized I needed a tablespoon of baking powder to finish a (really good) cake. Are you serious? I have to load up two children right before dinner, drive to Wal-Mart, unload them, fight the crowds to the baking aisle, get that one tiny can, stand in line for ten minutes, get them back in the car, drive home, unload them (by now they're fussing because dinner is late), bring them in, feed them dinner and oh yeah, the cake still isn't ready.

So I (bravely) went next door, and asked my neighbor (whom I had met once or twice) to borrow some. They have a little daughter, and seemed friendly and approachable. And then that evening, I brought them some cake. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or not. I never heard from them again. They didn't even return my dish. I promise, the cake was good!

Perhaps I have the black thumb of friendship.

Yesterday at the library, I looked around at all the moms with kids the ages of my own, and hoped for a chance to talk to someone. Surely someone out there has room in their little black book for one more friend. Aha, I see her.

She has a boy a little older than Iain.
She has the stay-at-home mom uniform on (rather than the professional mom ensemble, which shows a possible lack of time for spontaneous trips to the park).
She looks nice enough.
And, oh yes, glory be, I hear her talking to the librarian about homeschooling!
And better yet, about Sonlight curriculum, the very one I am investigating for my boys!

I (bravely) approach her.

Me: Excuse me, did I hear you say you use Sonlight? (ah yes, that was a brilliant line.)
Her: Yes. (um, see, I just tossed you the conversational ball. You have to toss it back now. Give me something here, anything!)
Me: (faltering. She sure was chatty with the librarian not two seconds ago.) Um, do you like it? (stupid question. If she didn't, why would she be using it? Trying to cover, I continue) I'm thinking of using it for my kids.
Her: Yes, I like it. There's not enough seat work, though. I have to use some other stuff for that. Otherwise I just read [to her son] all day.
Me: Oh. (insert inane responses and small talk here)
Her: (insert inane responses and small talk here)


She gave me her name and number, in case I had more questions. That was nice. But after the way the conversation went, I think the death knell was sounded on that possible friendship before it began.

Sometimes taking the (brave) initiative really doesn't pay.


Jessica Leigh said...

I just keep thinking of Anne and Diana. You'll find a bosom buddy soon enough. :)

P.S. I used Sonlight a few years and LOVED it! They have the best books!

Mrs said...

Sonlight definitely gets props for great books and ease of use!

(If you want activities for wiggly boys, KONOS is the way to go! It's said that Sonlight and KONOS have the same idea, but KONOS includes the activities. That is, unless Sonlight has changed.)

Shannon said...

Oh my sweet friend, I SO understand! I have the same problem with friends, except in addition, all of mine move away from me. (No guilt, just sayimg...) =) I will begin praying for you if you'll pray for me!

Deb D said...

I can definitely relate!! Been here since Nov and everyone seems too busy for new friends. Praying for one works best! In fact, someone here was praying for new friends and my face kept coming to her mind. I don't think that I would have picked her out of a crowd, but, God knows best! Now just waiting for it to develop more.

BTW, have used Sonlight and absolutely love it. I think you will love the fact that it is literature based. I found that it had plenty of activities for us. Maybe not as much as Montessori, but, still...

Christopher Ryan said...

We totally feel for you as we've been in the same situation (only with the addition of a frequent language barrier!) It's been a lifesaver that Sidonie and I are best friends, but at times we do wish for another couple with whom we can spend time.

I don't think you should give up on your unlikely library friend too fast, though. She might have just been shy. You never know what might come of a friendship until you pursue it, right?! Hooray for new adventures!

icardi said...

Hi Allie! I agree with Christopher... I've run into the same problem here. It's that post-college-not-everyone-is-as-desperate-to-make-new-friends-as-I-seem-to-be Syndrome. It's rough, I know. But it's true, she could just be shy, or having a bad/busy day, or been caught off guard and bad at making conversation with a perfect stranger (I know I am!). I don't think she would have given you her number if the death knell had truly sounded. But I find it's easier to continue trying to develop a friendship by getting together in a way that provides boundaries and a short, defined timetable so each person feels "safe" about the new situation. For example, plan a play date 2 hours before nap time so you know that you will both HAVE to scoot out within an hour, or maybe an hour and a half. NOTHING can be too painful for only an hour, therefore it is less intimidating for both of you.

...Just some unsolicited thoughts from Laura :-)

Nan said...

Over the MANY years, I have found inane comments really can foster friendships! (Could I be Queen of the Inane?) You could jump right in, call the number the lady from the library gave you (hope it is a valid one), and invite her and her son over for a morning snack or early lunch, and see what transpires from there.........

Lauren said...

Awww---Allie, I can't decide if I should laugh or cry... You are so hilarious in capturing these moments (what would we do without humor?). Of course, my first recommendation is that you move back (because WE MISS YOU TONS), but since that doesn't seem to be in the cards, please hang in there. The friends will come, I guarantee it. In fact, I am already jealous of the friends you haven't met yet because they will get to lend you baking powder and run errands with you and have long conversations on the couch (sniff). I will be praying for you!

Aunt Steph said...

I'm with Nan...inanity (the process of inane conversation) is incredibly useful in these situations...take it from me, who's in the trenches with you right now. For example: if, when Iain had addressed Corey with "Do you want to be a biscuit?", Corey had replied with, "What?!?", the conversation (not to mention the bonding moment) would have fizzled. Inanity can weed out individuals who will never understand why you think you're as funny as you know you are. It can spotlight the hidden "Huh?"...the one that polite people camoflauge behind phrases like, "Mmmm hmmmm." "Really?" and "That's interesting." One of my 'Making Friends with a Neighbor Story' from the "park" duplex in Florida: The kids and I made cookies, put them in a decorative container, attached a note, and took them next door to the neighbor. She opened the door a crack, listened as I introduced myself and the kids, accepted the cookies with a scowl and shut the door. She put up that one strip of privacy fence between our yards within the month!