This is the best way to get to know your kid’s friends

I love to hate all the driving, the schlepping around of my kids and their friends during the summer months. My neighbors must think I am the proverbial headless chicken with the amount of times I back in and out of our driveway in 12 hours.

That said, while I complain about it every summer, I also cherish it every summer because I know they won’t need me to drive them around forever. My 16 year old has her license – she is out and about on her own. I jump at the chance to drive her anywhere nowadays.

My baby, my boy and his friends still need my chauffeur services. One part of driving I LOVE is that they forget I’m there, almost as if there is a privacy screen between us – and they talk about everything! These boys, on the early cusp of becoming young men, talk about sports, about each other, about classmates, teachers and coaches. This group hasn’t started the girl chat – YET. Maybe that’s when they realize I am in fact, in the car.

I learn about the coaches they all adore and why (some are funny, some are permissive, some are just fantastic athletes.) I hear about the good teachers and the ones that suck. They use that word and I HATE hearing it out of their mouths. This said, I have realized I may be a 14 year old boy at heart. I internally laugh when they tell fart jokes and giggle like Beavis and Butthead when someone mentions Dick’s (Sporting Goods.) I had to conceal my snorts once when one of them used the word scumbag – I hadn’t heard the word scumbag since I was in 8th grade. Seems they are resurrecting it…Say it five times fast. Snort.

During carpool, I’ve learned my son has fantastic friends. I’ve known many of these boys since three-year-old preschool and watched them grow up. A former shy boy is turning into the group comedian with such a strong wit I need to stifle my giggles to maintain my invisibility. Another formerly snide little guy becomes more darling and sweet with each year that passes.

I am happy to say this group is loyal. They are funny and fun and fierce competitors. They get along and sometimes I feel like I’m watching the movie “The Sandlot” with their pubescent humor and seemingly (to this mom) rude names for one another.

My son’s friends care for each other. Despite the name calling, I still see a lot of love. I was appalled the first time I heard the name exchanges and was ready to bring out the big guns. After asking my son about it, he explained to me “Mom, guys are different than girls. We all laugh, all of us.” Hmmmm. Mom gut tells me name calling is never good and hurts feelings – but I trust my son and his friends – I was that embarrassing mom and asked them -‘Does this bother you?’ They all said no and told me not to worry. I told them sometimes words hurt and go too far and they need to be mindful of this. I think they will listen. I hope they will listen.

I see my son in a new way when I watch him with his friends. More than anything I see his loyalty,  pride and protectiveness of these boys. It is a joy to watch him grow and laugh with kids who respect him.

Groups of boys are so different than their girl counterparts.  They are rougher around the edges and are riskier with behavior and words. They also say what they mean – what you see is what you get. I trust my son and his friends to be careful with each other’s feelings. I am learning what ‘boys will be boys’  means. I know sometimes they go over the line. I also know they continue to make up and move on. How do I know this? I know them. I drive them around. I pretend I’m listening to the radio, but I am listening to them.

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