We parents are always on the heightened prowl to keep our kids engaged and running in supportive and worthwhile social circles. Part of our job as good parents is to keep our kids crashing around with the right crowd. Every day with our offspring, we scan the horizon endlessly for positive influences when approving or disapproving our children’s choices for friends.
Consequently, our kids meet a wide array of fellow youngsters who either become fast friends, convenient alibis, partners-in-crime, or parental favorites. It takes a village to form the pack that crosses paths with our kids daily.
I am here today to over-generalize potentially in a controversial way and categorize some archetypes of our children’s friends. Here are some notable categories:
This youngster is always up for a contest. The competitive spirit is strong in this one. They are always looking for the victory and hate losing. They can turn a simple game of basketball or bottle flipping into something in which there is a clear delineation between the loser and the winner. There is no in-between. They tend to inspire your child to raise their “game,” but can also be none-too-modest when they are victorious and therefore leave your own offspring pouting on occasion.
The Polite One
This kid is a parent’s dream. He always has a “Thank you” or “Yes, sir” chambered and ready to aim at you at a moment’s notice. Granted, he doesn’t offer the same thrills typically of the more edgy or boisterous friend, but frankly, that is okay. You hope that this demure and polite child rubs off on your own child in terms of being grateful for everything and a delight in the presence of other people. This childhood friend is a dream to have over for sleepovers or on a day trip, where all you want is gratitude and pleasant discourse in return for the money expended on gas and food or admission price to this or that.
The Pleasantly Privileged
This friend is the kid living in the high-end neighborhood with three more bedrooms and three more bathrooms at his house than at yours. He knows what it is like to have a PlayStation and Xbox running simultaneously in his bedroom that is bigger than your first apartment. He invites your child to the coolest destinations and has the most elaborate birthday parties with virtual reality trailers parked out front of the house. Refreshingly, this friend, in fact, has parents who are always very cognizant that he leads a privileged life and wants to make sure he is grateful in your presence when he is away from home.
The Eddie Haskell
If you are an old man like me and happen to remember the TV show “Leave it to Beaver,” you know the character Eddie Haskell. Eddie Haskell was a wiseguy and mischievous young man who would always turn on the charm when elders were present.
When addressing Beaver Cleaver’s mother, Eddie would say things like, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Cleaver, that is a lovely dress you are wearing today.” He was a bit of a sneaky sycophant, and out of earshot of the parents, he was up to mischief. I have not always seen through this type of friend, but my son is sometimes quick to fill me in on how I have been duped unsuspectingly.
The Lover of the Great Indoors
Here we have the child who, if presented with a recreational opportunity outside, will inevitably balk. He seems keener on video games than frolicking outside in the elements. He is just as happy at home perched on a cozy gaming chair than in an environment where there might be excessive heat or viruses or bugs or exertion of any sort. Some may classify him as the ultimate “homebody,” who never wants to stray too far from his mom’s fried mozzarella sticks. He is unassuming and just a little shy, but once the fun gets underway and against his better judgment, he raises his “game” and suddenly finds himself having a good time, even if it is outside.
The Search Engine
I have always been enamored of my son’s friends who are walking “Google search” engines. These are the kids whom you can ask, “Who had the highest batting average in the National League in Major League Baseball last season?” or who can tell you if salamanders are reptiles or amphibians.
They are whiz-kids with technology and while you try to figure out how simply to scan a QR code instead of your own retina, they can probably tell you how computer programmers wrote the algorithms for reading QR codes. These friends will sometimes get an eyeroll from your own child when you have asked this little Einstein friend if he has any idea how to make the font on your phone bigger so you can read it.
Maybe you, too, have a horribly generalized set of categories for your children’s friends. Perhaps you have your favorites and those you want to steer clear of. Either way, our kids manage to collect a vast basketful of compadres who fit themselves comfortably into stereotypes that are entertaining, enduring, and memorable. Here’s to celebrating the mixture of personalities who travel into and out of our kids’ adventurous lives!