First week of school for the kids here in Dallas, and my 8 year old niece is getting into trouble. It’s the boy who sits next to her. If either one of them doesn’t want to listen to the teacher, the other is always open for conversation. She gets a mark on the board for talking too much (as too many marks leads to a frowny face on her take-home folder.) and her little friend does too. He gives her this reassuring smile, and it’s frowny faces every day this week. Since I’m the ‘disciplinarian/aunt the kids are afraid to cross’, we had to have a talk. I asked my niece why did she constantly let this boy influence her to do bad things as this is odd behavior for her. For an 8-year-old, she is rather intuitive. Her answer shocked the shit out of me.

“He makes me feel good about getting in trouble with him. When the teacher tells me I’m trouble, he tells me I’m a good person. That’s why I’d rather talk to him than listen to her.”

Wow. I was looking for the standard ‘I don’t know’ you normally get with kids her age. With that powerful statement, I resolved that there was nothing I can tell her to change her mind. We contacted the boy’s parents and they were concerned by his behavior as well. We had to sit them both down and let them know that helping each other fail is not friendship. Friends help each other succeed and keep each other on task. Bing-o Prest-o Chang-o. Instant results.

This made me think about my own affiliations. My life has significantly changed in the last 16 years. I mark from that time since I was responsible for my own actions from that period on. I have went through several changes and metamorphoses. It’s a shame when you discover that the people you once looked up to, and were once your motivation suddenly stop moving forward, as if they’ve reached some peak. And when you try to reverse the tables, and be that motivation for them, they are content to be stuck in the dark ages. When you’re the only one that realizes times have changed and it’s time to change the Modus Operandi. Things go downhill for them, and you offer a helping hand and they’re too proud to take it. It’s disheartening. It makes my soul ache. We’re talking over a decade of friendship.

It took a very positive provider to make me see that some chapters are meant to end. I’m done with giving away fish. I’m trying to teach people to fish. And I’m trying to learn how to catch whales. Metaphorically, I’m still learning to catch fish in some parts of my life. I think we all are. There is always room from growth. I have an intense need to surround myself with more positive people. In the process of growing as a person, the last thing I need is to have to constantly talk someone down from the ledge.

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