Our oldest boy, Harrison (9), has a best friend. She’s a girl.
Boy/girl best friendships that don’t include kissing are rare. In today’s world where so much of the elementary social scene is segregated, girls and boys who are buddies are routinely teased and pegged as romantically involved.
But the moment Harrison met Kaiyah they were like Batman and Robin, Abott and Costello, Pinky and the Brain (she’s the brain). Their friendship was initially based on an equal infatuation with Harry Potter and magic in general, but over the past year of traveling together as families they are simply two peas in a pod.
It didn’t take long for heat from their friends on the playground to test their brevity. Jake, one of Harrison’s buddies, was particularly skeptical at their breach of gender lines.
“Mom,” Harrison said last year after the first week of school, “Some of the kids on the playground are teasing me and Kaiyah about being boyfriend and girlfriend,” he said, spitting out the last three words like they were icky and covered in goobers.
“Really?” I asked, “Who?”
“Well, like Jake. He’s my friend, but when I want Kaiyah to play with us he gets all weird and teases us.”
“Well,” I said, “Sometimes you’ve got to stick up for your friends. It’s okay to tell people that boys and girls can be friends too, just like in Harry Potter.” Those were obviously magic words. He armed himself with Harry and Hermoine’s powerful example and never had a problem with it again. Within a month Jake had not only gotten over it, but he rounded off their trio.
We routinely eavesdrop on Harrison and Kaiyah’s conversations for propriety’s sake (when Jake’s not around) and it always pays off as good entertainment. I walked in on them practicing Hogwart’s spells one time, but my presence instantly halted any magic brewing in the air.
“Whatcha doin?” I asked.
“Um…” Kaiyah said.
“Just…practicing,” Harry said.
“Cool,” I turned to leave the room then stopped. “You guys know it’s not real, right?”
“What’s not real?” Kaiyah asked.
“Magic. It’s just pretend, the books, the movies, they’re not actually real.”
“Uh, yeah,” Harrison said casually, “We know.” I turned to leave again. ”Wait,” he said, “Are you sure?”
I will tell you in confidence that no thanks to hanging out with little sisters and girly friends, Harrison has an open affinity for Barbie movies. He is not ashamed of the fact that he knows all the songs from Barbie as Princess and Pauper. He’s not sure what it is about those movies that he loves so much. We’ve decided to tell him when he’s older.
The other day Kaiyah’s mom walked in to find Kaiyah, her sisters, and a couple of nine and ten-year-old boys from the neighborhood–Harrison included–watching Barbie Fairie Secret. Knowing that Kaiyah prides herself on being anti-princess and anti-Barbie, my friend asked, “So Kaiyah, do you like the Barbie movies?”
“No,” she answered defensively.
“I do,” Landen (10) confessed with a sigh.
“It’s just,” Kaiyah said, “I can’t help watching them.”
“It’s true,” Harrison agreed as the three of them sat mesmerized watching Barbie flit across the screen.
It’s funny to see how compliant Harrison is when it comes to being bossed by a girl. We were playing at the lake a few weeks ago and Jason told the kids he’d give five euro to anyone who could catch one of the teensy minnows swimming around. Harrison and Kaiyah spent the next hour intently fishing for treasure.
“Got it!” Harrison yelled at last, holding the little red bucket above his head.
“You owe me three euro,” Kaiyah said, hands on her hips. “It was my bucket.”
Harry sighed and shrugged, “Alright.”
Someday some woman is going to thank Kaiyah for training that boy so thoroughly.