Teen Boys and Their Friends
Boys and Their Friends: A Drama Free Zone
When I was a “tween” and adolescent girl, it was difficult to maneuver and understand the nature of my friendships with other girls. The cattiness and moodiness, the cliques and the clashes, the fakeness of friends who pretend camaraderie just to gossip behind your back made being friends with girls a maze of confusion. Most times it felt like a lead jacket of the mind constricting movement of thought. Don’t get me wrong, I too definitely partook in that kind of behavior. It was what you did when you were in a group of girls, a sort of pack mentality–Plain and simple, girls back then could be mean! Unless I am grossly mistaken, I think that kind of churlishness continues today. I see it quite often in my classroom and out on the playground. The unkindness of adolescent girls may even happen at a greater rate nowadays due to the greater ease of communication thanks to technological advancements. Heck, those pesky adolescent behaviors persist even with some GROWN women. Gossiping about how absolutely horrible someone’s children are to one set of friends, but taking a trip to the apple orchard with that very same family as if spending time with them was nothing but pure joy. Friendships between teen girls–between women–are difficult at best.
Not so with boys, in my opinion. Boys just seem to not possess the drama gene that girls tend to have. They can fight, but minutes later head to the ice cream stand together. They don’t gossip… because if they have something to say it is done to the friend’s face in a way that is laughed off instantly. They don’t tend to be cliquey…Hey the more the merrier…playing touch football or a pick-up game of soccer takes a lot of people! Friendships between adolescent boys– between men–seems so much less complicated and so much more inviting. As evidence of what I am espousing, please read the following story of an extraordinary event that I was privileged to witness. With all the other complications that come with raising adolescent boys, thank heaven for the ease of their friendships.
Shaking his legs and arms in a runner’s fashion, Sean loosened up at the starting line getting ready for his school district’s annual mile race. His hands were sweating and his heart was pounding in his ears. Had this been a year ago, he would never have felt nerves like this. A year ago he was the best runner in school. This race would have been easily won…one year ago. But that was before Gannan arrived, a new kid in school. For the first time ever, someone’s hand slapped the school wall before Sean’s during their daily recess races. From that point on, Sean and Gannan were fast friends. Running was in their blood. They zoomed like lightning around the playground, around the block, around the town.
Now, at the race, Sean was sure that his 3 year winning streak was going to be broken by his best friend, Gannan. Sean glanced over at him. He took some comfort in the fact that he looked as nervous as Sean felt. His head was down and his eyebrows furrowed.
“Runners in line!” shouted the official. The mass of students pushed and shoved jockeying for a good starting position. Gannan elbowed Sean and gave him a look that said, “Let’s do this!”
“Runner’s get set!” Sean’s heart beat almost drowned out the man’s voice, and then, “Bang!” The gun shot signaled the runners’ stampede, a burst of energy. Bodies shoved, legs tangled and in the chaos, Gannan tripped and fell. Sean ran a few paces before he realized what had happened.
When it did register, he looked back to see his friend struggling to get up among the trampling feet of other runners. For a split second, Sean realized that this was the break he was looking for. If he kept running, he’d win for sure. A cold rush seeped into his heart. It didn’t feel right to win like that. A few more paces and Sean knew what he had to do. He turned on his heels and headed back against the stream of runners, a flying fish swimming against a fast current. It took just a few seconds to get to Gannan. Sean reached down and grabbed his friend’s forearm and picked him up. Their eyes met for a brief moment and then they were off, friend next to friend, running the trail together.
Approximately five minutes later, as expected, Sean and Gannan were the first runners to approach the finish line. Side by side they ran–the perfect twosome. Both exhausted from the fierce competition, they ran in tandem. Gravel crunching under the weight of their dashes; left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Their breath mixed with the sound–crunch, whoosh, crunch whoosh. Most of the crowd was unaware of the circumstances before them, but still they sensed that something extraordinary was happening. Perhaps it was the mixture of pride and awe and tension and worry on the faces of each boy’s mother that gave it away. Maybe it was the pure elation of the coach’s cheers, “Yeah!! That’s the way to do it boys! Team mates! Team mates!!”
Ten yards from the finish line a subtle change came over the pair. Gannan inched his way ahead of his friend just slightly–a hair here, a thread there…slowly solidifying his win. But just before the finish line Gannan hesitated and looked behind him. He was no longer sure if he wanted the win, not sure if he deserved it. After all, where would he be without Sean? How different would this race be had his friend not helped him escape the trample of the crowded starting line? As if sensing his doubt, Sean, shouted, “Run Gannan run!” Gannan’s hesitation melted away and reaching down deep found an extra spurt of energy. From his second place position, Sean’s heart burst with pride as he watched his best friend Gannan crossing the finish line in first place, knowing that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.