Thank you for being a friend.
Traveled down the road and back again.
I love The Golden Girls theme song; I love the remix too (if you haven’t heard it, google it). During my pregnancy with Max, watching Golden Girls reruns made me happy and provided temporary relief from my pregnancy induced misery. I loved the humor; I loved Blanche’s personality, and I loved the girls’ friendship. I secretly hoped the baby would hear the lyrics, gleefully assume they were about him, and stop making me nauseous!
Max has three best friends. They are friends in every sense of the word: they play together, laugh together, and are mischievous together. I enjoy watching them interact because they are innocent and unencumbered by what is considered “appropriate” male bonding behavior. They hold hands while walking down the street, end their play-dates with hearty hugs, and sometimes exchange kisses on the cheek. Their love for one another is pure and unfettered.
Recently we had lunch with one of his besties, who relocated a year ago. When the boys saw each other, they didn’t miss a beat: they yelled, raced toward one another, embraced, and began chatting about superheroes and power-rangers. At the end of their play-date both boys happily exclaimed they would like to marry one another. I smiled as I imagined their vision of marriage; I am sure it includes, sleeping in forts, all you can eat pizza, candy, and chicken nuggets, and all night cartoon marathons.
In many ways, Max’s friendships remind me of my own. I have friends who I don’t speak to daily, but when we reconnect it is almost like time has stood still. We openly display our love and affection for one another in a myriad of ways; our embraces are both therapeutic and uplifting. We can talk endlessly about our latest milestones and heartbreaks; our conversations are peppered with screams of joy and sometimes tears. We are cheerleaders for each other, and don’t take our friendships for granted because we know we are blessed to have people who genuinely support and love us.
I want Max and Myles to experience great friendships throughout their lives. I am a better person because of good friends, and I want the same for my boys. I am sad that one day they will learn boys are not “supposed” to be as emotional as girls. I am troubled that they may be called “soft,” if they dare to display genuine affection toward their friends, and are “too close” to their friends. I fear they will be discouraged from openly expressing their love and admiration for one another.
I observe groups of males on the train and in movie theaters and notice how oftentimes they intentionally leave seats between them, even if it means talking over the unlucky person seated in the middle (I’ve been there). I watch them greet one another with quick pats on the back and fist-bumps in place of lingering hugs- God forbid anyone get the wrong idea about their relationships. I’ve overheard conversations where people have questioned the sexuality of men because they hang out with and talk to their male friends too often. This troubles me.
I want my boys to dare to go against the status quo and question archaic ideas of what masculinity means. I want them to continue to display and express their love for their friends without worrying about others questioning their manhood. I believe the best way to ensure this, is for them to observe Kwabs and I with our friends. It is also important that we have frank discussions with them about misconceptions regarding masculinity. They need to know being men doesn’t mean never crying, never showing weakness, or suppressing emotions. On the contrary, it means being secure enough to be vulnerable, and admit they still need to bond with and hug the friends who will travel down the road and back again with them.