Saturday, October 1, 2011

Musings on boys and friendships

I remember the intense girl friendships I formed from a young age. I loved to spend hours hanging out with my friends, having slumber parties, and sharing secrets (and at an early age, playing make believe). These friendships were often intense and intimate, and sometimes fragile. In early childhood my family was friends with a family with three girls--Becky, Jenny, and Christie. Our parents would often trade us off for overnight stays, and Nadine and I would inevitably end up each pairing off with the sisters, and being horrible to each other. We also had shared family friends Cori and Dori--who were between our ages. We spent lots of make-believe and games evenings with them while our parents were reveling in their own adult friendships, dinners, and pinochle games.

In third grade my best friend was Susie Roth. Then in fourth grade my circle expanded to Colleen, Celia, and Laurie--we would take over a small jungle gym divided into four sections during recess--and we called ourselves the "four musketeers." Each start of the school year, I waited with bated breath to see which of my friends would be in my class.

I had great friends from church as well, one of whom went to another Beaverton school (Debbi), and we had planned to be locker partners in junior high. Imagine my grief and shock when she called me up a few weeks before school started to inform me that she was moving to California the next day (her parents didn't want a fuss made about their departure). I've since reconnected with her on Facebook.

Another friend and I shared deep secrets and travails (she got pregnant during high school and had to have an abortion). In junior high and early high school, I was close friends with Amy and Karen, both of whom I fell out with eventually but have recently well as Becky, another church friend who I met for coffee last year after 25+ years! In high school, my closest friend was Ken, a boy whose mother was an alcoholic single mom...we used to cruise around Portland together..he introduced this suburban girl to all sorts of hot spots in the "big city." I remember driving the car through Council Crest while he mooned the rich people out the back window. Sadly, when I went off to college, leaving him behind, we grew apart and fell out of touch.

All this is to say that friendships have always been--and still are--intensely important to me. One of my favorite activities to this day is having lunch with a friend. This morning I got to jam with a friend and her musical friends. Lovely!

My boys, however, experience friendships in a different way. Over the summer, none of the boys wanted to have friends over. I know they have each other, which is probably a big factor. In Chris' case, he just isn't organized to invite anyone. Mike asked Kieran specifically about having a friend over, and Kieran said "no--that's okay. I can wait until school starts to see my friends." Honestly, I think that their cousins are their best friends.

I took Kieran to Starbucks today, and while we were sitting outside, one of his classmates from last year came up to us with his dad and brother. It was clear the boys were happy to see each other, and they cheerfully chatted away. As we were walking home, I asked Kieran if he missed any of the kids in his second grade class who are not in his class this year. He responded no, that he doesn't ever miss his friends. He seems to be popular with the other kids, but doesn't seem to have formed the intense, close friendships I did.

All summer, Mike and I were nervous to inform Nicholas that his ONLY friend from preschool, Nick, would not be returning to his school this year. We waited until right before school started to let him know, and he was completely blase about it! What a relief. I think he misses Nick, but he informs me that he is now friends with a few other boys.

Chris is the one who's suddenly gotten into friendships. Mike took all three of the boys to the mall today, and Chris ditched them immediately. He had texted a girl from school, who met up with him for the afternoon. We are entering a new era! Edison is a very small, tight-knit school. When we went to back-to-school night, the guy who teaches math said he wants to flunk the entire class of freshmen because they're the best class he's seen in his 17 years of teaching. Chris is loving this new environment and seems to be popular with the girls in his class.

It's fascinating to be a mother of sons and experience childhood through the male lens. It's so different from my girlhood experiences.

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