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?