Tuesday, July 19, 2011
We're Not Gonna Be Super BFF's And All
A new couple our age and with similar-aged kids has just moved to Podunkville. For employment reasons, DH and I were expected to recruit them into moving here, and to help them adjust in the 5 days they've been here permanently. Like us 3 years ago, they've also moved from a big city to Podunkville, and are bound to be weirded out pretty soon after the initial honeymoon phase wears off. In the 19-months we've known them from afar, DH and the guy have gotten along well, and he has a generally favorable impression of the woman.
Up until sometime last night, I used to like her ok. My opinion changed right around the second or third time she announced to the 7 of us out to dinner last night that "[The college-bound teenage sitter we recommended who was watching their kids last night] kept saying how easy our kids are to put to bed. They go to sleep awake! You just put them down, close the door and walk out! The sitter was like 'You mean, I don't need to rock them asleep? OMG, they're SO EASY! Like the easiest kids I've ever watched!'"
Yeah, it must be nice when one's kids are so "easy," um, unlike our kids, who this sitter has been used to watching, and rocking, soothing, and cajoling to sleep in various ways, because our little angels unfortunately march to the beat of their own sleep drummers. I'll spare you the gory details and summarize with 3 words: Low Sleep Needs.
The thing that rubs me the wrong way about this woman is that she has the odd habit of making unsolicited comparisons like that, which never fail to make her kids or her choices look amazing.
One funny one she did on her last visit months ago was about baby names. Our daughters are only days apart in age. The couple's daughter is named Claire. (Perfectly nice, lovely, wonderful name BTW.) Our daughter has a far less-common name that is not the easiest for Americans to pronounce. But it's big in Germany or something. When asked how they chose the name Claire for their baby, she went on and on and on about how they hated each and every girl's name they came across, and Claire was "like, the only girl's name we could even remotely stomach."
Ha, ha ... so we suck, right?
DH tells me I need to keep giving her a chance, she's going to have a hard time fitting in, and will want to spend time with us probably pretty frequently early on when they don't know anyone, and being kind and welcoming (up to a point) is the right thing to do. I remember well how hard months 3 to 9 of living here were, and how lonely it was not to have any young-ish parent friends, which thankfully, we now have in spades.
It sucks though. I already can see how she is... which brings up a recent conversation DH and I had about being honest in friendships. The closer you get, the longer you've known someone, the more data points you have on them - you're in a position to be able to give them some insightful feedback, in theory. But we rarely do. Unsolicited advice sucks. We all have our own fragile egos (i.e. see the above anecdotes about sleep and baby names for the contours of mine).
DH has a dear friend whose first wife left him 5 years ago, very suddenly. Within a few weeks, he was already with a new girlfriend, and talking about moving in with her. He eventually married her about 2 years later, yet all of his friends had many unspoken doubts. All of his friends think wife 2 is a wonderful, gentle-hearted person, but who is just all kinds of wrong for him. Where I am going with this story? Since marrying her, his personality has completely changed. I should also mention that for the last 2 years they've been struggling with infertility - which is making both of them extremely depressed and anxious (they're both getting help). He is honestly not the same kind of person he used to be. DH goes on an annual guys' trip to watch baseball with him and 2 other guys they've known forever - there was talk of canceling because the friend has been such bad company lately, and wants to bring his wife along to their dinners, oh and needs to attend the wake of his ex-coworker's father one of the nights of the trip, etc etc
So I said to DH, who is thinking of not going, "Hey, what if you were just honest with him about the changes you've seen in him, and try to find out how he's really doing?"
DH says he can't do that - "we can't change people." Right, although (in theory) we can provide them with honest feedback in a caring way, and let them know how their behavior makes us feel - then it's their choice to do with that information whatever they deem appropriate.
DH's conclusion: Nope. People need to figure it out for themselves in their own time, while their friends try desperately not to rock the proverbial boat with too much honesty.
Yeah, I can see that.