My sons were invited to a birthday party this weekend. Pretty standard fare, but this one was a little more special. I’m sure there are many of you with children where there is that one neighborhood kid, or one of your children’s friends who is a little more special than the other kids: one you look out for a little more than the other kids. Playing favorites? Hell yeah. It’s one of the prerogatives of parenthood, when you’re looking out for what kids are hanging out with your kids. Positive influences and all that.
Well the birthday party was for one of those kids. He’s a great little boy, and it’s so funny watching him grow up. Many times he yearns to be that cool kid — the one with all the answers — and then he just can’t help himself for being a sensitive, compassionate young man. I say young man because this little guy often shows real composure when faced with those little dilemmas children face: like when a friend becomes too self absorbed.
What I love most about this little boy is how well he fits with my oldest, who is about as sensitive as any nine year-old boy can be. This boy rarely teases my son — outside of that ribbing which is so quintessentially male, and which starts very early in live — and he even looks out for my youngest son.
Having invited both my oldest and youngest son to his birthday my youngest was thrilled and was so excited to get a birthday present for this boy. My youngest and I went off to Target and my youngest picked out the present. The first present he chose was 98 dollars: a little much, but I appreciated my son’s excitement.
What I could not imagine was the gift my youngest would get at the party. This compassionate boy who was having the birthday was opening presents and finally came to the one my youngest had brought. The boy opened the present and not only turned to my youngest to say “thanks,” but motioned him over and gave him a big hug.
My youngest was thrilled: practically melting into this boys arms.
And how lovely that at this age they have yet to be influenced by social norms of propriety or manliness, and can simply, beautifully express their gratitude to each other in a way that is intimate, and pure. The other beauty of this intimacy is the greater influence this has on them as people. When we know that there is at least one person in our lives to whom we can give a hug, or from whom we can expect a hug that makes us feel connected to everything. Here we are in these little vessels — our bodies — traveling in our little universes from home to work, or school, and because of social propriety we so rarely to participate in that simple base need to connect ourselves with humanity: the hug. We get that short or long moment to have the vessel of our existence touch and embrace, and feel connected to another vessel, reminding us that we are not alone, and that we are loved.