On My Son’s Camp Friendship with a Girl
I will continue to push back, one stereotype at a time.
I picked my 8-year-old son up from summer camp the other day, and in his usual articulate way he said “Mommy, I have something important to discuss with you about something that is making me upset.”
I told him to go ahead.
He sighed and continued. “My best friend at camp is Michelle. But some of the other kids are saying she’s my girlfriend.”
I asked him if the other kids were saying this in a teasing way, already knowing the answer. Yes. At that age, those words are meant to be an insult.
I said “You know, I wish kids wouldn’t say those things to you, but I know it happens. You can say back to them ‘She’s my friend that’s a girl, but she’s not my girlfriend.’ Are you ok with that?”
He said that he was, but I know that forming a response in the moment, when being teased, is easier said than done. “I really like Michelle,” he said, almost sadly, “We have the same interests.”
I told him that my best friend in kindergarten was a boy named Jesse. He was painfully shy and many of the other kids didn’t want to play with him. I was shy too, and our friendship formed over the fact that our last names both started with the letter “B” so we sat next to each other in Circle Time. The friendship probably would have continued except that I switched schools the following year.
I asked my son “Is it ok to be friends with someone who has blonde hair?” My son has black hair.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Is it ok to be friends with kids that have a different color skin?” We are a multi-racial family in a very diverse community, but always point out to our children that historically and currently, there are people in the world who feel differently.
“Of course!” he replied emphatically.
“Is it ok to be friends with someone who is a girl?”
“Yes,” he immediately responded, making the connection between the points that I had drawn for him.
“Exactly,” I said, “We don’t say ‘I won’t be friends with someone because he has blonde hair’ and we don’t say ‘I won’t be friends…