Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best Friends

zoo trainRecently, through a conference with his speech therapist, I found out my son likes me. I had a pretty good idea beforehand, but when his "teacher" relayed a conversation they had in which he said "I know my dad so well, it's like we're best friends!" I knew for certain. And why shouldn't he? After all, I'm his primary caregiver in the morning. I ride bikes and play ball with him. I cut his sandwiches in special shapes on occasion. I have even been spotted wearing a cape as we zoom around our little cul-de-sac saving the city from vicious invaders. So, I'm glad he likes me.

But this can't last.

I want to be his friend until the end of my days, but I know that the days of being his best friend are numbered. He will get older. He will make friends at school who know all the names of the Skylanders characters. He will listen to whatever hipster music men of my generation just don't get. He will have a camp out with his buddies from boy scouts. He will have a first crush, a first love and a first kiss. And somewhere along the way, he will have moved on from me.

But I hope he knows me even better by that point. I need him to know not only what I like, but what I don't like. Its my job to make sure he knows how I trust him, what I expect of him, where to make a stand. (This goes for my daughter as well.) My job as parent is to prepare them for life. That doesn't happen as their best friend. That comes by teaching life skills so that when they no longer count me as their best friend, they can handle the new relationships they build and feel confident making their own decisions. If I do my job, I can trust them with those new relationships, and they can have the freedom every child wants. While I know they most likely will not tell me everything as they get older. I want them to know by the relationship I build with them that they can.

And so, in the time I have left as my son's best friend, I will continue to build Lego cities with him, and talk about death when it is needed, and point out when I see things that disappoint me. I will teach him how to build a sandbox and how to treat a girl and how to spike his hair just right. For my daughter, I will show her what to expect in a gentleman when *gulp* she begins to date. I will listen as she sings me songs or reads a story she wrote herself. I will encourage her to be strong and confident in herself and I will teach her modesty in her dress. I will wear a crown as we have high tea, and I will listen whenever she wants to talk.

I am their best friend, and I am their Dad, and while I will forever be their Dad, my time as their best friend is limited, so I will make the most of the time they give me.

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