A Jack by any other name

In Kindergarten, my middle son arrived home on his first day with big news of a best friend. His chosen pal, ironically enough, was also named “Jack.”

I smiled and assumed my son had simply found an easy opening with a classmate.

Yet four and half years later, the Jacks remain tight. Both boys are quiet and thoughtful. I once timed them playing catch for four straight hours. Amazingly, not a single word was spoken between them during that entire period.

Their strongest bond has always been sports. During an important baseball playoff game, spectators held a collective breath as one Jack fielded a hit and threw the ball to the other Jack at first base.

The only ones completely relaxed were the Jack parents. We knew it was statistically impossible for these two to mess up that play. They had been performing it together non-stop since age five.

Even now, the boys continue to call each other by their kindergarten names: Jack M. and Jack W.

Upon starting a new school last year, my Jack arrived home with a familiar announcement. He had found another BFF. And again, the child’s name was Jack.

“I think Jack B. will be my best friend from THIS school,” Jack shared, eager to not dismiss Jack M.

Expecting another sports-obsessed Jack to appear at my door, my son surprised me.

“Jack B. likes sports, but he’s not SUPER into them. He’s mostly just funny.”

Curious, I finally got around to inviting Jack B. to go skating with us. I immediately understood why my son liked him. The kid was hell bent on refusing all assistance, skating around the Maggie Daley Ice Ribbon through sheer force of will. Jack B. had gumption. And my kid was right. Jack B. was totally funny.

Still, when Jack declared his best friend from ice hockey was again named Jack, I rolled my eyes. I thought for certain he was withholding the “best friend” moniker from kids he loved just as much, kids with names like Emmett and Dominic and Ryan. He even admitted as much.

Jack was being an elitist.

Or rather, he was being a name-ist.

Regardless, I invited the latest Jack (Jack S.) over with trepidation. How many “nice” Jacks could possibly exist in the world? Jack S. was also the leading scorer on my son’s hockey team, and aren’t those kids always a bit jerky?

I was fully prepared to dislike him.

Damn Jack S. proved me wrong.

The kid was sweet and polite, playing patiently with my lunatic 7-year-old while indulging my oldests’ obsession with gadgetry. Best of all? Jack S. liked cheese pizza. The rule of pizza ordering in our household is two people have to like it in order to get it. Up until Jack S. arriving, I was the only cheese person in our house.

Jack S. scored me my first cheese pizza in ten years. That alone makes the kid aces in my book.

Despite all the terrific Jacks that have come into our lives, I still wanted my son to branch out and put non-Jacks into the best friend category. Marching orders were given.

A few weeks later, Jack arrived home, triumphant. He declared proudly that his two new best friends were indeed NOT named Jack. Instead? They were both named Patrick:

I’ll give you one guess as to what Jack’s middle name is.

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