I hurt your feelings today when I told you I was not your friend. I saw the disappointment and confusion on your face, and believe it or not, it pained me to say it. I want to explain. I do like you; in fact, I think you are a pretty amazing person. Our relationship is important, yet I wouldn’t call it a friendship.
Think for a moment about what a friend is. You’ve probably had many who have filled different needs as you matured and made your way through life, so you’ve got a pretty good idea what a friend is and isn’t. At this age, a friend is probably someone you share your secrets with. She’s someone to text in the middle of the night, chatting about the latest gossip or what to wear the next day. A friend is the person who knows what makes you laugh and can comfort you when you are sad. Together, you do all sorts of stuff like hanging out, listening to music, going to the movies or staying at home binging on cookie dough and watching TV. Your friend is there for you no matter what.
Except for when she’s not. There may be times when your friend is distant. She may have her own struggles you know nothing about. You will fight, as girls usually do, and there will be long periods where you don’t talk, where she ignores you and hangs out with other people. Then you have to figure out if your friendship is worth saving. If it’s not, you’ll find a new friend, someone else with whom you can post photos on Instagram. Another person will fill the seat next to yours on the couch as you two marathon the latest episodes of your favorite show on Netflix.
That person can not be me. Do not think that because I am not your friend I do not care. I do care. Your well-being and success in life are my number one concern. I am your loudest cheerleader and your strongest supporter. I am here for you no matter what.
I don’t care what you wear, what music you think is cool, or who should get together on some TV show. If you get mad and yell at me, I won’t go into a pout and refuse to speak to you. I won’t talk about you behind your back, or cut you out of social functions. You are important to me, and I value our relationship.
But it’s not friendship. Because those times you do get mad and lash out, I will correct you and hold you responsible for your actions. If you falter, I will pick you up, and I will teach you how to stay strong. Those times you find you are alone and in need of rescuing, I am a phone call or a text away, even if it means driving to some back-woods party at 2 a.m. to pick you up because there was no one else for you to call.
So, dear child, we can’t be friends because I am something far more durable than that; I am your teacher, and whether you’re fifteen or fifty, I will be there for you.