“Oh no, not Mickey Brown again!” This was my mother’s cry every Saturday morning. She hated Mickey Brown. Loathed and detested him with a vengeance. Why? I have no idea. She disliked most of my friends, but she saved up all the venom for poor Mickey Brown, whom she took against before she ever met him.
Look, your children will sometimes have friends you don’t approve of. It’s natural. Live with it. As kids, we are attracted to other kids who are different from us. It’s our way of finding out. We go for the very poor kid or the very rich kid because we have no experience of it and want to know what it is like. We go for the ruffian or the spoiled princess or the kid from a different ethnic background to ours or the ragged urchin who smells or the autistic kid or the one from the gypsy encampment or the smug middle-class one whose parents are accountants.
Whatever it is, as parents, we will be tempted to disapprove. It’s human nature, but we mustn’t. We must be supportive, encouraging, welcoming, and open. Why? Because if our child is hanging out with other kids that test our tolerance, it’s a good thing. It shows we are bringing them up not to be prejudiced or judgmental. And if they aren’t acting this way, we shouldn‘t either.
The funny thing is that Mickey Brown’s parents couldn’t stand me either. He wasn’t allowed to play with guns, and I was always smuggling them into his house when his parents weren’t looking. I didn’t like guns particularly and we are talking cap guns here but I did love getting him into trouble…
One of my own children had a birthday party and insisted on inviting a kid in his class who had serious adjustment problems (what we used to call a “naughty child” but you can’t do that anymore see Rule 73. When his parents came to collect him, they were quite tearful, as it was the first birthday party this poor kid had ever been invited to. What’s that? His behavior? Oh, he was a little angel and didn’t put a foot wrong. In your dreams. He behaved true to type, and I was heard muttering, “Never again; he never comes here again,” for many weeks afterward. No, seriously he played up a bit and wrecked the place, but no more than any of the others did. One of the others, a supposedly good kid, was caught filling one of my wellington boots with cheese sandwiches and jelly secondhand if you get my drift.