Saturday, February 25, 2006

Male Friendships

Most women I know have always had profound friendships with other women from childhood on. We always had our 'kindred spirits' (one of my favorite phrases from Anne of Green Gables).

I'm 45 and in my generation I just didn't see a lot of male friendships that weren't fairly superficial and/or didn't last past highschool or college associations.

Which is why I am so pleased for my two sons. While they had friendships with both boys and girls in elementary school, it was starting in the 8th grade (junior high here) that they each formed deep bonds with a little circle of friends. These friendships remain extremely strong and meaningful even now, years after highschool graduation, and - in the case of my older son - despite long periods spent distanced from each other and pursuing remarkably different lives. (For example, my older son has spent a lot of time in other countries. One of his friends now lives on an island off the coast of B.C., married young with two young daughters he absolutely adores. Another of his friends recently married in another province and is presently serving with our military in Afghanistan. But you'd never know that time and distance has ever separated them once they're together again. Side story: one of the Christmases my older son was away suddenly one of his friends showed up at my front door. His only purpose was to pass on a hug from my older son to me. He hugged me and left. Pretty cool.)

One brother's circle is very different than the other brother's but they share certain attributes. They are extreeeeeeemely loyal to each other and really have each other's backs. This, despite some major divergences in belief systems and philosophies. I have for years loved knowing that if my sons felt they couldn't come to me for whatever reason, I knew they talked with their friends and that they were looking out for each other. They're also not afraid to show affection, including hugs, sharing feelings, vulnerabilities.

From what I've observed - and I'm sure I'm generalizing too broadly here - this feels like a major shift for men between the generations. Either way, it's a very good thing.

I'll finish with a little story of my older son and one of his friends. When they were around 18 yrs old they often went camping on the weekends. Bad weather didn't matter. And we have plenty of lakes, rivers and mountains nearby from which they could choose. Not surprisingly, there was some substantial drinking going on (no driving EVER when drinking which is why they often chose the closest mountain and walked/hiked into the woods). My older son returned from one of these trips with badly burned feet. The story went that he had passed out drunk, his feet in the fire and one of his best buds had got his feet out of the fire and made sure he was okay. It felt good knowing he was being looked after.

Well, years later I learned the real truth. Yes, my son got drunk and passed out. His buddy was worried about him getting too cold so he got him in to his sleeping bag and put his feet by the fire. REALLY by (in?) the fire. Sleeping bag caught on fire. Hence the burned feet. *LOL* So much for that warm fuzzy feeling I had about how they looked after each other.

P.S. My older son rarely, if ever, drinks now and hasn't for many years. I guess he got it out of his system. My younger son has yet to touch a drop. He's just not interested, having seen how idiotic some of his friends can behave when they're drunk. (Nor has he tried drugs and yes, I would know.) And I think he actually likes being the designated driver.


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