My girls love playing with the boys on the block. They
love their girlfriends, too, but this summer they are developing
relationships with the boys.
Together they play basketball in the driveway, they practice
karate (they don't know what karate is, but they practice it), they
pick up bugs, dig in the dirt, and make up games about
I appreciate what I am seeing because I grew up with some great
guys, too; guys that I met very early in my life, guys that
remained friends through high school and beyond.
I can't say enough about the girlfriends I have had over the
years, but my opposite sex friendships have been pretty special,
too. They offered me a world of new experiences, a different
perspective on how to see myself, how to be more of myself.
I never considered myself "boy crazy"; I just enjoyed the
company of boys. My guy friends were funny and uninhibited
and they taught me about music, sports, and swear words. And
they carried themselves differently, not better or worse than my
girlfriends, just differently.
I don't have any brothers so these guys were my teachers.
They let me wear their wrestling shoes and their football
jerseys. They encouraged me to ride my bike without holding
onto my handlebars and they confided in me about things they didn't
want to tell their friends.
In 7th grade Jacob and Scott taught me how to spit
through my teeth at Sweet Park (gross, I know, but so cool back
then…I can still do it by the way).
My friend Jerry always knew how to make me laugh when I was
struggling, and he liked to make fun of my big 80's hair (he still
does). And my friend Brian taught me how to handle, and even
throw back, sarcastic comments. He was, and still is, a
Sometimes Jim and Randy would walk me home from school and teach
me the words to Van Halen's Ice Cream Man, and Led
Zeppelin's Thank You reminds me of Joe (as does Aldo
Nova's Fantasy, a song that will follow him around
forever). When I hear Billy Idol I think of Richie and Elvis
will always remind me of Justin.
The guys had their own lingo, great words that were easy to pick
up. Everything from pulling ahead (meaning you made
a fool of yourself ) to sick one (similar description) to
Skirdoo! (very loosely translated as, all
right!...I already know that I will be made fun of for this
translation). And the term of endearment Pretty,
which my best friend Monisha and I still call each other.
Along the way some of us dated and had more serious
relationships, but at the root of it all there was friendship,
which made it easier to get back to where we started.
The relationships were not always easy, they could be messy and
they required some work, but I am so thankful for the experiences
because they were a part of my base, part of the reason my life
unfolded as it did.
I left for college with an ability to relate to men and women
confidently, to view guys as friends and not just romantic
prospects. My first response to a guy was never changing or
flirting, it was more honest than that, much more of a peer
I was even drawn to my husband because of his love of sports,
his humor, his appreciation of great music, and because he embodied
what it meant to be a good friend. He reminded me of you
guys, and I felt right at home.
So this summer I enjoy watching my girls play "sticks" and kick
every ball imaginable as their fancy dresses, princess toys and
dolls go untouched. It's fun to watch their awareness and
self concept shift as they investigate different parts of their
And it's a pleasure to see their definition of "friend" expand,
because I know from experience that this will impact, and greatly
enhance, their lives.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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