When asked to tell me which of her summertime activities were her favorite my daughter surprised me when she told me that going to her best boy friend’s house was her “best time all summer.” I would have guessed she would choose one of our vacation spots or one of the camps she participated in or even her beloved dance classes. But no, she chose spending time with her buddy who happens to be a B-O-Y.
She really likes playing with him, and she dislikes when people tease her about him being her “boyfriend” because anyone who knows her well knows that spot is taken by–wait for it–wait for it–Justin Beiber. When asked to give me reasons she enjoys playing with her male sidekick she doesn’t hesitate to respond. He’s “just really fun” to play with and “acts so silly” and “does crazy stuff.” He makes her laugh hysterically. I’ve witnessed them together, and I hear how happy she gets in the length and pitch of her laughter.
They both play with toys in unexpected ways. His entire selection of stuffed toys had a dance competition on his backyard soccer field. She provided the commentary on what the animals were doing and he made them act or dance in crazy ways.
When the county fair came to the area she even cleaned under her bed in order to be given the opportunity to go with her buddy. She hasn’t stopped talking about how much they enjoyed “eating hotdogs” and “catching sharks to win our leopards” and going on the “big kid rides.”
They genuinely seem to enjoy spending time with each other despite their gender difference. And it’s fine with me that she learns early on how to relate to boys in a friendly way without the societal pressure prescribed to male-female interactions.
My first best friend was also a boy. His name was Paul, and I loved him. According to my mom, we were very close and played together on a daily basis in similar ways as my daughter and her boy friend. When my family moved away from his my mom says I was lost and that I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t moving with us. Our bond was so strong that we viewed each other as essential parts of our lives.
Boy-girl friendships, in my non-expert opinion, establish a healthy core for later male-female relationships. I also believe they teach children to view members of the opposite gender as regular people instead of as mysterious beings who are unlike them or even frightening to them. If understanding to get along with those different than we are can begin early in life then life will be easier to enjoy with less frustration and more genuine joy.
Just watching my girl and her favorite boy friend playing at “Have a Hoot Fun Ceter” in Milford, Pennsylvania I saw that my girl has lots of joy in her life already. She chased her buddy all around the multi-level, interactive, foam ball play arena and indoor playground. She also enjoyed being chased in return, and both children had a blast throwing foam balls at each other and bouncing the balls all over on the trampoline.
The physically engaging obstacles, like the slides, trampoline and the trolleys at the center are gender neutral activities that allowed them to just play and not worry about playing with a girl or with a boy. They both laughed themselves silly and wore themselves out blasting balls at targets and each other. They truly had a hoot!
But for me the surest sign that they are friends didn’t come from the play time or the snack time of colorful snow cones, but rather it came when they finished playing the arcade games and my daughter had more tickets than her friend. She told me she wanted him to be able to get a nicer prize, and so she sacrificed her own tickets for him. I don’t think she’d have been as generous with her siblings.
I’m happy she is such a good friend and that she has a pal she cares so much about and enjoys spending time with so much. Quite frankly, as long as it doesn’t bother her, it doesn’t bother me in the least that her “best friend” is a boy.