I distinctly remember my mother and father not liking certain friends I had. I remember this because they were vocal about it. Of course many of the kids they did not like I liked for all the things they saw in them that I disagreed with them on - Supreme Court judges have maybe heard the level of detailed argument I often made on these friends' behalf.
I also remember the superiority argument that I told them and told myself even older before having kids that " I would never do that with my own kids". Yeah that is a long list of the "parent" I would be which includes; will never yell at child, will always negotiate, will have perfectly mannered Tiffany for Teenage Table Manners worthy fork and knife holding by age 8, will never say because I said so .. yeah you know we all say these things in our balcony view of parenting. I will admit that I do try to adhere to some of them but I have long ago learned that parenting is about understanding in a flash what is needed in that moment and sometimes "because I said so" is the right answer.
My mother was right - I am old enough to be ok with admitting that even to her - about the kids she did not like as my friends. There were not many, I have been incredibly lucky to have made friends since my first steps into the States at 8, then in high school, a few in college and even as an adult (particularly as a mom) that are just really amazing people. My network of these friends is one that is full of memories, of support, of admiration for who they have become and the tighter even years after that first "hi" regardless if we see each other as often as we would like to or not. The friends she did not like -- yeah funny thing they are not part of my life. I think somewhere deep inside I knew she was right - but we all know that a teenager will not admit that even upon threat of water boarding style torture because that would mean, shudder, that we were not all knowing at that age.
Now it easy to control the friendship circle when kids are little - after all 1) you are the one that sets up these friendships at first via story time or activities and you select not based on child but on parent that you would like to hang out with so all is good (and should little adorable Jenny suddenly become bride of Chucky during said play date well you just don't do more) 2) you are their main mode of social set up - slightly different then when most of us were kids, especially city kids where this occurred bit more organically via the went outside and played with pattern 3) they cannot communicate except through you so oh well you see a child who is actively pushing children off a slide in the stair not slide direction you can opt never to call that parent for a play date. Then day care, school, the school bus and suddenly they are making choices.
Now I know there are parents who believe in full democratic process but I am of the "I am the parent and I need to make the hard choices" school. I pick my battles of course - you want to wear two different pairs of socks ok - you want to lock of your bedroom door yeah not happening - I also reserve the right to check your email, texts and online activity, my kids are young some of these rules will maybe get a little leeway as they get older. There are friends recently though that I am not liking so much - exactly for the reasons my son likes them for. They are allowed to play video games that I do not allow - they somehow have more access to adult tv content and language and they are a draw. I get it. I did some myth busting with son about how "everyone is allowed to play Call of Duty" type games that is his age by asking in front of him how many moms allow it - none. I also took him to Game Stop and asked the guy who works there what is the age for those, full confession I hate those games the realistic graphics are disturbing considering they involve killing, and he said 14 or 15 start but not before. I wasn't going to let him play at this age anyway but it felt good to be in the right - he rolled his eyes said he got it and then told me that he understands that real killing is bad but video games are not real (you know he thought duh but he knows better than to vocalize it).
So they are still young enough that I could ensure minimal contact but that only made me hang out with the kids I got the "I do not like" about. I also realize that essentially the kids seem like ok kids with more graphic vocabulary than 10 and 11 year olds should have. I want to teach my sons to make the choices that I eventually made on my own - to select the friends that enhance their lives and not are a momentary flash of firework. To know when to walk away and when it is just part of understanding good and bad choices that all kids and teenagers make. The boys are meant to learn to judge people on character or lack thereof. I can easily ban these kids but I would rather have the boys start to make decisions not based on what these kids are doing but by the old adage "show me your friends and I will tell you who you are".