Saturday, 11 August 2012

a kids perspective on friends and lovers

Today is wet. And so I happily agreed to each child having a friend over to play for the day.
Son ended up going to a mates house and so I have two girls here.  On the way back from pickup up the friend (who has not visited before) asked my daughter how many people lived in her house.  She explained: me, my mum and my brother.  My mum and dad split up a long time ago so he lives in another house, but he comes and visits all the time.   This was said in a quite but surprisingly confident voice.  The friend nodded sagely as only 10 year olds can.  ''My parents are just mates these days'' she said.  ''They argue all the TIME and they aren't in love that's for sure''.  My daughter looked at her in amazement.  ''Do they sleep in different rooms then?".  'No but often Mum sleeps on the couch'' she responded.  My daughter looked at her and said ''well my parents don't live in the same house but they NEVER argue any more, AND they are REALLY good friends''.

It was an interesting exchange and reminded me that children see the world in a different way to us.  I have no idea how much truth (or reality) was in this girls statements. But as far as she was concerned, arguing meant not in love (in a basic way).  As far as my daughter was concerned, it appeared to be almost favourable to have non-arguing parents who liked each other, even if they didn't live in the same house.  This is a huge departure for my child who has spent most of the past 4 years yearning for her father and I to reconcile.

I have struggled with this issue so much.  My parents didn't even speak to each other (for various and convoluted reasons) for 30 years give or take.  My in-laws were the same.  My ex husband and I were determined that this life would not be repeated for our children, and have gone out of our way to be beyond civil - to be ''friends''.  Which makes parenting 1000% easier, the inevitable family events much more pleasant and the division of property, friends and family a smoother path.  But the downside is that the children have found the delineation of our lives more difficult.   Children's logic says: if they're not arguing they must be OK.  If they can be friends maybe they can be married.  When is he coming back.
On the other hand, a strained relationship just makes like harder for everyone but there is unlikely to be any question of reconciliation in the minds of hopeful children.

So to hear my daughter explain her situation, and seem to be rather happier with her own situation than that of her friend was somewhat of a revelation to me.

Baby steps, but maybe this is another one along the path to acceptance.

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