Many years ago, I watched my son experience, for the first time, the evolution of that first best friend. It was something beautiful to watch and it brought me back to when I was a kid experiencing the same feelings. We never forget how awesome that first friend was. We never forget how invincible we felt when we were together. The laughs, the tears, the hard times, the fun times. They are often the best memories of our childhood.
But life complicates, as usual. We quickly realize that growing up is hard – and real friendships are hard to find. What gets us through those tough times are those friends we choose to share our lives and our families with. They prop us up, stand behind us, and never, ever judge.
I’ve had my own struggles lately. And no matter what happens, I know I’ve got some amazing friends in my corner. And honestly, I’ll take that over anything else in the world right now.
We have to learn how to be a good friend. It’s hard. And it starts as kids in the playground. My heart melts when I see my son and begin his own journey. While his first best friend had a place in the process of learning to be a good friend and person, it’s the second first best friend several years later that is molding them into the type of friend they will be for the rest of their lives.
But we never forget that first best friend. I remember clearly when I dropped my son off at preschool one morning, he uncharacteristically was upset that I was leaving him. It was his second year and never once previously did he show any signs of separation anxiety.
So I asked him, “what’s wrong?”
He reluctantly conceded, “I miss Jordan.” His first best friend who was no longer in his class.
I couldn’t help but feel for him. We’ve all been there.
Do you remember your first best friend?
The one that you played tag with at the playground and ate at the same table in the lunchroom. The one that made you feel cool for the first time when they showed you how to turn your baseball hat backwards.
The one that made you feel comfortable in that new school with those new kids and new teachers when you thought your insides were going to explode you were so nervous.
The one that you got sent to the principal’s office with for the first time even though, of course, it wasn’t your fault. Hypothetically speaking.
The one that liked the same girl but of course you never talked about it.
The one that you rode bikes with throughout the neighborhood for the first time without your parents watching. You had finally broken free of the confines of the driveway.
Explorers, you were.
They were the one that went a little too far into the woods with you and although you both were afraid that you wouldn’t find your way back out as it got darker and darker, you didn’t say a word about it to each other. But you both knew.
You got in your first fight together although you have no idea what you were fighting about. It hurt but you made believe it didn’t.
He showed you that magazine that he found. You know, the one with the pictures. Of girls. It was awesome but you didn’t even understand why yet.
When you got older, you snuck out of the house together at night for the first time to meet up with your friends that had a later curfew and subsequently locked yourselves out of the house.
Then you both experienced ‘being grounded’.
He saw you cry over a girl for the first time and then the next month did the same thing over the same girl. You understood.
You graduated from high school together and swore you’d stay in touch and see each other often, but you didn’t.
You visited each other in college a few times and it was as if time had never passed while you were together but your visits became less and less frequent. You were both busy studying and hanging out with your ‘other’ friends.
You both eventually got married. He was in your wedding. You were in his. Memorable speeches were made and you laughed and told stories of times gone by.
You bought a house. Had kids. He did the same.
You keep in touch but not as much as you had hoped. You meet up now and then and as always, time stops for those few short hours until you meet again.
Life gets complicated and busy and we all accept that. We cherish the time we DO have together.
But as life further complicates and responsibilities demand our time and attention, when I think back to all the great times we’ve shared together, I can’t help but realize that some of the best moments of my life were back on that playground with you.
Tag, you’re it.