Millenial Friendships

Monday, February 11

When I was a kid, the stories I loved to read were about brave people doing brave things. Matilda standing up to Miss Trunchbull. Tamora Pierce’s Alana, about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to become a warrior. How she fights boys who are much larger than she is. She gets knocked down but this king of thieves teaches her a couple street moves and she uses it in court and brings the bully down. Aslan taking down the evil witch. Fairy tales about orphaned young girls who are the most vulnerable choosing to do these wildly brave things and protect their loved ones. When I read the bible, that is what I see over and over again. A whole host of characters, from the prophets to Jesus and eventually his disciples choosing to be brave and die for the sake of love.  These are the types of stories I’m drawn to. Stories of bravery.

I suppose it’s also because I have a father and a mother who are/were brave.  My dad often gets himself in trouble for addressing problems he sees that are unpopular. He’s not being self-seeking in his problem solving. He addresses a bigger problem and when people get angry or vengeful, he has a quiet sense of integrity and would rather be misunderstood than speak up and defend himself. My mother had that kind of integrity, too. This sense of justice about her.  Once our priest dedicated the Eucharist as an act of protest against same-sex marriage. I don’t know Mom’s views on same-sex marriage but I remember her asking questions. Honestly, I think the reason she walked out before the communion hymn played is because the priest was using the Eucharist to manipulate people towards his own political inclination. She did it with dignity but she didn’t partake just because everybody else did.

This is how I grew up. I love my parents. They modelled bravery and integrity to me.

I think a big part of the reason I care about speaking up when I see people doing harmful things is because I remember a time I was silent. A couple of my friends in high school made another girl’s life hell by sticking menstrual pads to her locker (if I remember correctly — but I could be wrong– they drew blood from their fingers and wiped it on the pad so it was ‘used’) and drawing cruel cartoons about her, among many other things. It went on for a couple years. I never did anything because I was too afraid. In grade twelve, I apologized to the girl who was bullied for everything that happened. She cried and it was like I finally realized what life must’ve been like for her.  Why did I never say anything before?

I don’t know what other people define as friendship these days. Maybe they want a friend who will comfort them when they are sad or someone to share a meme with or to like their status on Facebook.  Maybe they just want someone who will join them when they bash people behind closed doors. Someone to be petty with. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t want to be that kind of person. When I gossip, I feel sick to my stomach after for betraying people I love. There is nothing appealing to me about it. I don’t want to be that person.

I don’t know what friendship means to other people but when I call you a friend, I mean, I will go to war for you. I am loyal to you. I will fight for you and with you. You might get mad but I care about you too much to flatter you. I will be gentle. I will be kind. I will be respectful. I will encourage you when you’re having a bad day. If you are in need, I will give you everything I have. But I won’t tickle your ear if you’re doing something harmful whether that be to yourself or others.  I will admit my mistakes. I will apologize for them and try to do better next time. I will sit there when you lose your job, and listen. I don’t always have to right words, but I’ll be there and I won’t let you be alone. If you’re suicidal and I can’t be there with you because I’m in a different country, I will email your loved ones and tell them what’s going on so they can be with you. When someone talks about you poorly behind your back, I will defend you.

I’ve lost a lot of friends in my life. Some of them I regret and others I don’t. Some were my fault and others were not. I’ve grown from each of these losses and did what I could to make them right again. It takes two people to make a relationships work and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, people’s hearts will turn hard. There is nothing I can do to change them.

The thing I’m most proud of is when I lost them, I didn’t lose who I was in the process. I am proud of myself for this. I recognize myself by the end and don’t hate myself when I look in the mirror.

***

I’m subbing at a Thomson Community school.  Been here for two days. Tomorrow will be my third. They have an amazing staff and I am so lucky to be here. Anytime, I go to a community school, I feel like I’ve struck gold because the kids are a total treasure and the staff tend to be sensitive to anti-oppressive methods of education, but they don’t take the kids shit either. I love it. Anyway, the Arts Ed teacher who I was filling in for was also the Indigenous Ed teacher.  The grade two’s were learning about the Seven Sacred Teachings and they were on the teaching about courage. The book was written in Ojibway (gosh, I love that word. O. Jib. Way) and English. I read the story to the kids and follow up with  the discussion questions the teacher left and throw in a couple of my own.

“So, grade two, what animal does the writer say is courageous?”

“Makwa!”

“Makwa! You’re right. Mother bear. And she is brave because…?”

“She protects her cubs!”

“Is she afraid when she sees something bad coming?”

“Nooooooo.”

“What does she do when she sees something scary?”

“She faces it!”

I wanted to take them through some visual imagery thing about facing our fears but none of them took it seriously. They kept rolling on the floor and giggling and it was totally cramping the inspirational vibe I was going for. So we just roared at shit for awhile and that seemed to do the trick.