I know I’m posting a lot about Corde recently. She’s got a lot going on. It’s not that Beekee, Sander, and Luca aren’t doing interesting things, but on an unschooling front, Corde is doing the things that draw the most attention. She’s finding a lot of life lessons in her interactions with our new neighborhood.
The most recent problem? Corde’s friend taking over her life.
Corde has always been an impressionable kid. I’ve always joked that she’s very good at saying, “Baa, baa” because she wants to fit in, and I think I have a lot to do with that. She wants so badly to have some strong friendships that she’s willing to do just about anything to get that, even if it means sacrificing herself and her relationships with her family. In the past this has been difficult for her because her homeschool friends weren’t so receptive to this. However, her new friends all go to school and they seem to be more inclined to accept tat kind of behavior. I think it has to do with their own dance of fitting in just to get by in school.
Just this weekend Corde and I had to have a nice, long discussion. I was tired of her becoming more and more like Maddy every day. Generally I like the girl. She can be a handful and doesn’t always listen well. She has problems respecting rules and boundaries in my house. She puts a lot of pressure on Corde to do or say things. She’s not a bad kid, but she’s not Corde either.
Our talk was one Corde didn’t like at all. I told her about all the changes I’d seen in her that weren’t exactly positive. She was being encouraged to lie to me, or to tell half-truths in order to try and coerce me into making certain choices she and Maddy found favorable. She was pushing boundaries with our household rules, rules that were put in place to ensure the happiness of everyone in the family. To be blatantly honest, which I was with her, I didn’t like the changes I was seeing in her. She wasn’t being Corde anymore. She was becoming a little Maddy clone, straight down to wanting to cut her hair just like Maddy’s.
Corde was really upset about this. I think she saw the dreaded outcome of “if you’re going to be like this, you can’t play with her anymore.” As much as I’ve considered that option, instead I told her that I really miss her being just like herself. I like the kid she is, problems and all, and I don’t want her to change just to be like her friend. A lot of the freedom she has comes from the fact that she’s trustworthy, and Maddy definitely isn’t. I don’t want her to lose those freedoms because I can’t trust her enough to let her have them. For example, I can’t let her go out and play in the neighborhood if I can’t trust her to tell me where she is and who she’s with. If there were ever an emergency I need to be able to find her. I like her having those freedoms because it made her happy.
Not knowing what else to do, I just took a random stab at a possible solution. I’d never gotten it in any kind of advice, but most of the advice I had gotten only seemed to complicate things. I just used logic as best I could to try and come up with something.
I told Corde about her freedoms and all of that, but I followed it with a request that she spend some time to think about who she is exactly. I wanted her to think about what makes her different from Maddy. What makes being Corde a truly awesome person to be? What does she want to do with her life? What makes her happy?
I didn’t really expect it to work. I kind of figured this was a shot in the dark and would never work. Much to my surprise, it did. She told me about all the things being just like Maddy was getting in the way of. She didn’t want to damage her relationships with her family. She wanted to be trustworthy. Most of all she wanted to grow up, travel, and be an artist. She doesn’t have much time to work on her art, or pretty much anything, when Maddy is around. Most days she likes having Maddy around after school, but she’s got to have some time to be herself too.
In the end that’s all I’ve ever wanted for her. I don’t want her to lose who she is in an attempt to have friends or to make other people happy. Their happiness isn’t worth giving up her own dreams. If she stays true to her dreams, she’ll find people who will support her and be positive in her life. It’s not an easy road, but she’ll find her way. I have faith in her.
Thankfully, Corde has spent much of her time being herself after this talk. I think she’s realized that the world is a better place when she isn’t trying to be something she’s not. She really loves hanging out with her friend, but she doesn’t want to be just like her. Their differences are what makes them such a wonderful match. Each one can bring something to the relationship the other one can’t.
Now we just have to encourage her to keep it that way. I want for her to have friends, to be happy, but I don’t want her to lose who she is in the process. She’s such a vibrant, creative, and intelligent girl that I’d hate to see that sacrificed to trying to fit in. I know she’ll find her way. All it takes is time.