5 Things My Friends Have Taught Me

If you stopped reading before the picture on Monday’s post you’ll have missed the most excellent and imagination-provoking tidbit of information that my friend Vacuums Her Dog. Yes, that IS what I thought when she first told me. She has a golden retriever, and it makes sense, after a fashion: you either wait for the dog to shed and you vacuum the carpet, or…you vacuum the dog. I found this so amazing I wrote about it on Facebook too, and she sent me a most valuable reply, offering the suggestion that it also works on children.

I like my friend. She is a wise woman, and not generally prone to random silliness (unlike me, and unlike certain soon-to-be pizza-shop owners I could mention), so…

I tried it.

Yes. I vacuumed my kid.

He’s three, not quite four. He’d crawled under the bed to rescue some long-lost thing, and returned with a large family of dust-bunnies adhered to his otherwise-clean jumper. It was in my hand, I was doing the rugs. I vacuumed him. He loved it.

It made me think, though. If it wasn’t for this birthday party on Sunday where we were talking about (oh heavens, I don’t even remember!) I wouldn’t have learned this valuable new form of child-maintenance. In fact, it made me remember that there are a lot of valuable life-lessons I missed out on growing up that my friends have helped with. You learn a lot from your friends.

  1. Vacuum your kid. I just explained that one.
  2. Give money away, heaps of it, until you don’t even think about it any more. I grew up stingy, and it took me a lot of years to change this. When people talked about giving I’d give what I could spare (and yes there’s wisdom in that don’t get me started on the importance of budgeting and financial responsibility, I am very much into these things!) – but I was poor in spirit. It wasn’t just the “spare” after the mortgage and the bills were paid, it was the “spare” after my extra cappuccino and perhaps a Danish as well. Until this one day in church when the offering bag came around, and the preacher was preaching on “give and it will be given unto you” stingy-me put in my cappuccino and Danish money, with the stingy prayer of “all right God, I want to see a ten-time return on this one please, because it’s going to be hard to get through work tomorrow” (this was a while ago, okay? I didn’t say I was proud of it). But tomorrow came. I lived without my cappuccino and Danish, and I felt okay, freed up by not having-to-have, and lighter (shut up, no pun intended). And that night someone we didn’t know very well gave us an envelope with $100 in it. For no reason other than “because”. We’ve been trying to pay it forward ever since. It’s changed our lives.
  3. Fold your washing while you’re taking it off the clothesline. I love this! My friend Tanya taught me this one. She folded hers while it was wet too, just to keep the wrinkles out, but I don’t go that far. But it works. By the time you get to putting the washing away (three days later…shut up) not only is it neatly folded, but there are no wrinkles and it doesn’t need ironing.
  4. Tell stories. Talk in random anecdotes at the bus stop. Share fun stuff. Share the sad stuff. Not only do people find themselves in your stories, it’s the best way to reach out and take someone’s hand, to say “I hear you. I know you.”
  5. Love extravagantly, it’s not free, but the cost is well worth it. Do I need to explain that one? I think not. But in the same way that that envelope with $100 all those years ago changed my financial life, so has the generous gift of time and words and love and coffees and crazy times from friends. I’m still working hard to pay it all forward.

How about you? What lessons in life did you learn first from friends? Do you think it’s worth vacuuming friends as well?

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16 thoughts on “5 Things My Friends Have Taught Me

  1. I love this, especially number four. It seems to me we are afraid to intrude, afraid to ask for help, and afraid to allow ourselves to be known. This is so lonely that it makes me so sad. Thank for for writing all this – it helps!

    • I’m glad Margaret! I feel exactly the same way.
      I grew up with the attitude (passed down to me) that you should never ask questions of people, and never “intrude”, and self-sufficiency was “god”. It’s been hard busting out of that mindset, but oh-so-worth-it. It’s community that we’re building when we do those things, and love, and family. Keep going!

    • Oh kid vacuuming and folding washing is truly life-changing stuff, eh? 🙂
      I had a lot to learn…seems that most of the lessons I learned in childhood were…ummm…wrong. Except for the spelling. I aced spelling.

  2. My best friend, my husband, taught me how to laugh at life and myself – and even at him. We have learned to laugh about the stupid things each of us does instead of getting upset or mad.

  3. This a such a great blog…it even made me a little teary as i thought bsck over how precious my friends have been. I think the biggest lesson they have taught me is how incredibly valuable the gift of time is…it says ‘you are important to me’ like nothing else. That, and to cook in bulk and freeze meals so that we can have homecooked meals when i am working crazy hours.

    Definitely trying out the vaccuming tip! X

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, thanks.
      I know what you mean about the gift of time. I’m a real “quality time” girl too. And knowing that, and knowing what fills my “love tank” has been such a helpful thing.
      I used to make meals in bulk and freeze them. I still make them in bulk, but now I have three huge(ish) kids, and they just eat them! 😦

  4. I hose mine. When they come to the front door covered in mud, I say “go stand in the yard” and then turn the hose on them. Same principle, why bring all that mud into the house or shower where you then have to clean it right? So I hose them outside, problem solved – and no they don’t mind. You gotta be quick to run back inside after though, or you might just get hosed back, sometimes. 🙂

    • I love that idea! I remember being hosed down as a kid, and it was the height of fun. I wish my kids had more opportunity to get dirty sometimes. Not enough mud at our house…is that a weird thing to say? Although the time they painted their bodies with sample pots of house paint was pretty priceless…

  5. I love these! My friend taught me how to say “No,” to people. I’m still not great at it, but good example: my boss asked me to taste-test some expired coffee in the office to see if she needed to throw it away or if it was salvageable… I kindly declined. Baby steps!

  6. Great tips. When my children had worms someone told me the worms float around in the air so I vacuumed all the air in our house. I didn’t vacuum the children’s bottoms but the thought did cross my mind (only very quickly though, like a flash).

  7. I won’t judge you. Sometimes we go a whole week without putting laundry away. We’ve been known to live out of the dryer for a week. Of course, I’m a man. I don’t care if my clothes are wrinkled. 🙂

    I might threaten to vacuum my daughter the next time she wants to put off her shower. I like that idea.

    • HAHA!! Don’t tell her I suggested it though 🙂
      Re the laundry – ironically after I’d written the post I poked my head around the corner of my study to see if I could take a photo of one of those ubiquitous piles of laundry to illustrate my post…and there wasn’t one. For once.
      There is today…

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