Category: Teachable Moments

That Second First Best Friend

Coming of Age Friendship Teachable Moments

That Second First Best Friend

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.

Chatting about life.

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.

A Moment In Time Coming of Age Teachable Moments Tragic Events

True heroes even in the eyes of a 5 year old

bostonfire.jpgYesterday, I watched from my office window in Cambridge the horror that was taking place just across the river with that sinking feeling that what I was witnessing was going to end horribly. I heard the voices on the scanner, saw the MAYDAY tweets, and watched the flames and smoke violently swirl around that building as the emergency vehicles ascended and ladders extended as they tried so desperately to get it under control.

It was hard to watch knowing what was probably happening inside that building.

When I got home, I turned on the news. My three young kids were sitting there and knew something was wrong. We all sat there for a few moments transfixed on that fire and the words of the strangers describing to us what was happening. Fire, explosion, MAYDAY, firefighters trapped, no radio response, smoke, Engine 33.

“What happened Daddy?” my daughter asked me.

“There was a fire and some firemen got hurt” I told her.

Her face turned concerned; her eyes opened wide.

“Are there people in there?”

“Not any more” I assured her.

My 5 year old son looked at me and said, “Why did the firemen go in there?”

“To make sure all the people got out safely.”

“Is that how the firemen got hurt?”


“Did they die?” he asked with a slight hesitation.

“Yes, they did.”

And with that, my son locked eyes with me and said confidently, “He was a really very brave man.”

Yes they were Connor. Yes they were…

Don’t take anything for granted. Hug your kids. You just never know what the next 10 minutes may bring.

Thank you firefighters Michael R. Kennedy and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh for your bravery and heroism. Our hearts and gratitude are with you forever.

A Moment In Time Life Parenting Teachable Moments

Kids Can Change the World

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Change. Some of us embrace it while others fear it. Change comes easily for some but for others, it’s a slow and painful process. Generally speaking, kids do better with change. More importantly, kids want to and believe they can change the world.

I recently asked a group of kids the following:

1. If you could DO anything in the world right now, what would it be?
2. If you could CHANGE anything in the world, what would that be?

Their responses were insightful and heartfelt (and often funny!):

Haley age 7:
1. Have a sleepover
2. I would take seizures away from all the kids who have them (Awwww)

Emily age 12 (Haley’s big sister):
1. Get rid of all sickness (see a theme here)
2. Change mean people so that there is only kindness

Ava (Zoe’s twin) age 7:
1. Go out to dinner
2. I don’t know.

Zoe (Ava’s twin) age 7:
1. Go out to dinner
2. I don’t know.

Connor age 5:
1. Go to the beach and swim in the ocean with Nannie
2. I would make it my birthday

Meredith age 12:
1. Eat because I’m starving!
2. World hunger and the Taliban

Thomas age 8:
1. Get rich and spend all the money
2. I honestly don’t know

David age 10:
1. Gaining magical powers and buy 10 pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts hash browns
2. No bad people

Sean age 10:
1. Go skiing
2. No one would be homeless anymore

Kyrie age 9:
1. Go to an imaginary world that I make up in my mind
2. I would change global warming because it’s making all the glaciers fall down and soon it will endanger the animals that live on them or near them. I would also change the way people treat animals so they don’t get abused anymore… those commercials make me sad!

Kaylee age 6:
1. Gymnastics
2. No more bad guys

Alex age 4:
1. I would have a race with all of my friends
2. I would change all of the cars in the world so that they were all the color blue! And be able to make force fields and turn myself into metal.

Shannon age 14:
1. Go on a trip without a destination in mind – just see where I land
2. Change people who use stereotypes and who have a closed mind and aren’t open to anything different.

Erin age 10:
1. Stop child abuse and animal abuse
2. Eliminate war


Jake age 10:
1. I would become a billionaire and give it all to charity
2. I would take away all the bad drugs so that people don’t get addicted and ruin their lives

Brendan age 13:
1. Go to bed
2. For me to be the best in the world at everything

Devin age 8:
1. Go to Disneyland
2. Change bad people

Patrick age 5:
1. Go somewhere I could be surrounded by a million dogs
2. Change everyone in the world so they could have fun together… With dogs!

Riley age 5:
1. Go to Disney World
2. Make bedtime later

Rory age 3 (Riley’s little brother):
1. Go to Disney World
2. Make bedtime later

Elisabeth age 9:
1. I would cast a magic spell for peace, but I know it’s impossible. (Then asked which is impossible? She said “both”)
2. I would change people who commit crimes

Thorsten age 8:
1. Play chess
2. Make it so nobody would die

Sabina age 6:
1. Coloring
2. Make all the wounded animals into unwounded animals

Dominic age 9:
1. Go out and play a game
2. Be the best person I can be

Mia age 8:
1. Adopt all the homeless cats
2. Make smoking against the law

Matty age 12:
1. Go teach dance classes
2. Eliminate disabilities for those that suffer them

Parker age 12:
1. Go to an LSU baseball game
2. Be a professional baseball player

Ella age 9:
1. Be at an arcade
2. That people could fly

Avery age 7:
1. Ride a horse
2. Make fairies be everywhere you are

Catherine age 9:
1. Ride a horse.
2. Make our family last week’s big Powerball winner instead of the folks in CA

Patrick age 16:
1. Film a blockbuster, Oscar nominated movie
2. Bring back a friend who died over the weekend

Kylie age 7:
1. Go to Arizona and enjoy the sun and visit our cousins
2. Make my sister not have Celiac disease so she can eat everything again

Graeme age 13:
1. Play baseball in the MLB
2. World peace

Griffin age 16:
1. Cure cancer
2. To be Spanish

We all have dreams and we all want to change things for the better. But making tangible and widespread change has historically been a daunting task and extremely difficult to accomplish – particularly on a national or global scale. We’ve always had the will, the desire, and the passion for positive change but we’ve never had the tools, the influence, the platform, or the financial backing.

Until now.

Today, we have a number of innovative and powerful tools in our arsenal to help and guide our children in truly changing the world. Two of the most powerful being the Internet itself which has completely revolutionized the global impact of modern reform campaigns and the global reach of social media. Together, they represent opportunity and the what-ifs that were almost unfathomable even just a decade ago.

The questions I asked those kids were purposefully challenging and open-ended because it made them think about what they actually wanted for themselves and what they didn’t want anymore (what did they want to change). At least that was my goal anyway. The more those lines are blurred, the more likely they are to believe in themselves and their own influence to make a positive and purposeful impact on our world. More than any other time in our history, the ability and potential for the next generation to alter the global landscape in terms of poverty and wealth, politics, human rights, climate change, human and animal rights, health, education, arts, science, technology and basic human compassion is unparalleled.

These kids have the passion for change even though many of them are only just beginning to understand that they can have an impact even at such a young age. We have built the tools and the platform for them to realize that change. Organizations and people likeChange Heroes and Taylor Conroy are not only inspiring our children (and us!) to dream big and make an impact but, even more importantly, they have also built the tools to be successful and to make their work and their passion for change impactful. They are actually building schools in Africa! How cool is that?

For our children, their time is now. And it’s our time to continue to support and reinforce the fact that they really can, and will, make a world of difference.

Dream. Inspire. Build. Change the world.

Let’s do this.

Kip can be reached at or on Twitter @kipdurney.

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