Friday, July 16, 2010
Friends - when is it 'safe' to have an argument?
I have spent the past two days a cottage with a friend. We fell out midway through the first day. Only for a minute, possibly five. But still...there it was, for that five minutes we did not like each other.
How soon can a NBF (New Best Friend - ick) and you argue, and the friendship survive? A week, a month, a year, never? This friendship was shiny-new, about 6 months old. Like a newborn we tended it lovingly, excited over every tentative development. We could drop in on each other. She was starting to hear about my skeletons in the cupboard, and me hers. But it feels as though the newborn has suddenly sprouted fangs.
What was the row about? Children, of course. That is a surefire way to disagree with even the most amiable friend. Her son and my daughter are kind-of friends. They wouldn't choose to hang around each other - she is Queen Barbie, and he doesn't think the day has been a good one unless he has had roughly 88 sword fights. But when it is just the two of them they muddle along fine.
Only, it wasn't just the two of them. A friend had rented the cottage next door and she has a son - who also likes swords. My daughter was teased, battered, subtly and not so subtly ignored, "Girls can't be in the rebel space command". Until the point she just looked pale faced and miserable.
I tried to think of 'bonding games', games that might give her a toehold in the boys imagination, but it was no good. By this time, she had become dull and flat, wouldn't you if every time you tried to join in a conversation you were put down?
I pointed it out to my friend, how it was upsetting me that my daughter was miserable. Her son got a sharp speaking to, and I got a sharper telling off. It was brief, 'He is fine. My son is being just fine' I think she said. I tried to apologise, telling her I was just worried. But by this time, the red mist had descended on her, and I just looked an overreacting bitch.
The afternoon limped on. I wanted to go home, but couldn't as she was driving. We forgave each other, we laughed about out little contretemps and gave each other a hug. She told me she never argued with friends. I felt that made me look kind of special, in a bad sort of way.
This morning, all was well. Except a little scar on the newborn friendship. It itches, it is healing, but hasn't healed. We left each other, all smiles, and yet my hand is going to hesitate next time I think of calling her.
I feel like a schoolgirl who angered her best friend. It's so sad, as I like her, and I like her son. These are such petty, silly things that won't be remembered in a decades time. But friendships are such precious, fragile things. I wonder if this one will get beyond the forgive, so that we can forget and move on.