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On another topic entirely

My son’s best friend moved out of town on Tuesday.

When I was 7, my best friend wasn’t really a best friend. We played together, we got along fine, but we fought a lot, and we didn’t share, frankly, many interests. Fact was, I was a very old 7 year old, and my friend was a very young one.

This friendship, though…seriously, the stuff of legends. They met the second week of first grade, and they discovered kindred spirits. Same interests, same jokes, same level of emotional and intellectual growth. Honestly, one of the purest, best friendships I’ve ever seen amongst kids. The kind of thing that leads to being best friends still in 20 years.

They’ve talked to each other twice on the phone, but they’re 7, and the phone is an odd device to them. Hell, I’ve got a friend my age and the phone is an odd device to him, too, so you can’t blame them. The conversations are short. Pleasant, but short. And it’s raw, because they are, after all, only 7, and what’s happens hurts in a way that, certainly for my son, they’ve never experienced before.

The worst thing about being a parent, often, is that you can’t make it all better. You just can’t. You can try. You can do things that help, like take your son here, but let’s face it, that’s cold consolation.

So I’m going to introduce my son to retail therapy, and we’ll see if today doesn’t hurt less than yesterday.

11 Responses to On another topic entirely

  1. scrnwrtinghack

    My recommendation as a non-parent: Find out if the best friend’s parents have AIM or a Skype Account. Either of those keep up the communication lines.

  2. anw

    My first best friend, who I met when I was four, is still one of my best friends now. There was a time when we didn’t see much of each other for over ten years (different schools, then different cities, then different countries), but we’ll always be friends. If Elliot needs persuading that things will be OK, tell him I can prove it. (And in this internet age I’ve come to realise that you can never lose touch with anyone anymore!)

  3. voiceofisaac

    Wow. I lost a couple of childhood friends in that manner — they just moved away, and all the close bonds you’d formed couldn’t bring them back.

    My heart goes out to your son. It’s small consolation, but if your son’s into internet-based games, like Puzzle Pirates or City of Heroes or World of Warcraft and whatnot (I know, he’s only seven, but some kids start on games pretty young), that might be a way for him and his friend to keep in touch. Or maybe a webcam-based video chat?

    Lego retail therapy definitely sounds like a good idea. The “Mars Mission” and anime-based giant robot lines they’ve got are toys I would’ve given organs for at his age.

  4. tsob

    What, the red-head? Too bad; he’s a cool guy.

  5. lithera

    My dad was in the Navy and so I truly appreciate the situation going on there. You can write and you can call but it isn’t really ever the same. I agree with the recommendation of seeing if they can chat on-line some. It may or may not be less awkward than the phone. I hate phones, personally. I don’t know what it is about them. They’re just unfriendly somehow.

  6. stealthbunny

    Adding another vote for the online communication. Phones are filled with long silences and wondering what to say, not to mention they are horribly mundane. IMs and such add the Cool Factor of technology and the whole idea of I Get To Play On The Computer!

  7. parakkum

    I didn’t keep up with the best friend who moved away in first grade*, but I kept the one I met in fourth grade who moved away around ninth grade or so. Given the time, we actually wrote physical letters back and forth to each other. Email would have made this about a thousand times easier.

    Having not had access to IMing or email as a grade schooler, I have no idea whether I would have picked that up successfully or not.

    *And then randomly ended up working in the same summer research lab job with him thirteen years later.

  8. dewline

    I know the feeling too well. As a civil service brat, I was usually the one who ended up having to move away. Sometimes, all it took was a change of neighbourhood within a city, and that was the end of that. Not even the phone saved those friendships from the Dread Movers Van and its infernal powers(or so they seemed to me when I was that age).

  9. davesbu

    yeah, unfortunately a necessary part of growing up. Regardless,God Willing, 20 years down the line they’ll still be friends.

  10. incogvito

    God damn, that’s powerful

  11. mercuryeric

    Hope both boys are coping; they’re good kids.

    Gmail has decent IM software, so it might be worth sending a couple of invites out and setting them up secure commo. Let me know if I can assist.

    -E

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