Best Friends in the World

When we first moved to North Carolina, we joined a church with an active young adult Sunday School class. There were a number of couples in our class who had no children. Within a year, that had changed. We were the only couple without children. I noticed that our classmates talked about their children.

A lot.

After a while, it seemed like all those parents could do was talk about their children. At one point I turned to Misty and said, “If and when we have kids, we’re not talking about them all the time.”

Okay, so that didn’t work exactly as planned.

We do try to hold down our gushing about Eli to a minimum. In most conversations I barely mention him more than five or six times. Despite this, our friends who don’t have children still like us. What’s even more amazing is that so many of our local friends have adopted Eli. When our local friends come over on Tuesdays to watch Veronica Mars, they play with him and run him ragged. They ask after him. They even read this blog.

During supper on Tuesdays, Eli starts naming them. “You know who is coming over? Nanny is coming, and Jon is coming, and Tim is coming, and Rick is coming, and Jessica is coming, and…” Our night-time ritual involves me bathing him, then reading a story to him before putting him in his bed. After bath he now wanders into the living room. “I tell everybody good night.” When he doesn’t find all of his fans waiting for him, he says, “Nobody’s here!”

Even all of our nonlocal friends continue to ask after Eli, far more than they would need to if they were merely being polite.

When we had Eli, we were afraid that we’d never see our friends again. I couldn’t blame them if they avoided us — who wants to listen to parents talk about their kids all of the time? Instead they’ve befriended Eli, and his life is all the richer for it. I know I haven’t said it enough, so I’ll say it here publically: thank you all for the roles you play in Eli’s life.

11 thoughts on “Best Friends in the World

  1. I think we can all say you’re very welcome! I can only hope that when we have kids that we’ll be in the same boat. I know that is something I worry about, but perhaps it is an irrational worry for us since I can see how well our group does with Eli.

    All that to say, you guys have been blessed. I think everyone of us is happy for our roles in it. I can only hope that we will be just as blessed. πŸ™‚

  2. “What’s even more amazing is that so many of our local friends have adopted Eli.”

    I was noticing that about us when we were out visiting family earlier this month. I kept catching myself saying ‘Well Eli does this… or Eli does that’.

    When Eli was born, I didn’t know about this whole baby thing. You guys, along with our Sunday School class, have shown me regularly how you can become a parent and still retain your personhood.

    So in return, thank you both for letting us be a part of Eli’s life as well as yours.

  3. Yeah, it looks like this “baby” thing just keeps getting bigger & bigger. If you keep this positive marketing up, everybody is going to want one.

    I hope the economy can keep up with the impact on supply & demand πŸ™‚

  4. A view from the other side, since I know I approach this issue from a different angle than most of you …

    I’ve been pretty vocal in my decision not to have children. I don’t mind them, but I also don’t really *get* them, either — not in the way that I’ve seen Tim and Rick and Ashley really grok Eli.

    I’ve watched my friends inch toward becoming parents with a great deal of trepidation. I’ve always been acutely aware that my choice not to have children means my life will take a vastly different trajectory than my friends’ lives will.

    Eli’s been good for me. He’s a good kid (even though I’m not really good at knowing what to do or say when he’s around, because kids are sort of like an alien life form to me, but with fewer eyestalks and pseudopodia). He and your actions after having him have helped calm down the “So, they’re all gonna have kids and forget I exist” fear that’s floated in the back of my head for the past few years.

    Adulthood’s about learning that you, too, can make funny faces at your fears. Or something like that.

  5. Eli is an absolute delight. I know that the whole Nanny thing started out as a joke. It was just easier than trying to teach him to say Ashley. But somewhere along the way, Nanny became more than just a name. I cannot begin to tell you what it means to me when I arrive at the house and see that smile followed by a loud “Nanny” and usually some happy dance of sorts. It has truly been an honor getting to participate in Eli’s life the way I have. I know the sad day is coming when he will probably no longer need a Nanny, but I will treasure the moments until then.

    Thank you so much for letting me be a part of Eli’s life. You guys are great role models, both for Eli and those of us who aspire to be parents one day. I only hope I can be a mom like Misty. So, in response to your thanks, you are very welcome and a big thank you right back at you πŸ˜‰

    *Oh, and we’ll work something out about the new Pirates movie…I’m sure we can keep him for you πŸ™‚

  6. See, y’all involve us in the boy’s life. You make us a part. That really makes a difference. I have another friend [whom I’m not naming and no, Rick, not who you’re thinking] who has, with his wife, become a virtual hermit. Their kid is a bit older than Eli, and I’ve never seen the kid. [I’m staying gender neutral on purpose.] It’s … disheartening.

    [I am such a Debbie Downer.]

    But yeah … y’all do the balance of having a kid and having friends very well. I would only hope to do so well.

  7. Well, you’re both such great people, naturally you’ve got a kid we want to be friends with, too. πŸ™‚

    And, frankly, it’s all we can do to keep from talking all the time about Eli and what a cute kid he is. Aaron was just telling his parents about the “trapa-oid” tonight.

  8. We’ve tried to strike a balance between family life and time with friends, and not to be people who are solely defined by being parents. I’m glad to hear that y’all think it’s working. As for not knowing what to do around children, I can understand that. The main reason I can interact with kids now is that I have one.

  9. Getting really involved with kids is tough for me for a couple of reasons. I always get self-conscious that people are watching _how_ I interact with the child in question. Then there’s the problem that I’ve gotten old and forgotten how to have fun with being totally silly. Doing it now makes me feel like I’m being fake and “affecting” it.

    However, I second Amy’s comments. Eli is a great kid, and I’m constantly amazed to read and watch how fast he’s learning things and how perceptive he is when he’s watching us adults. There’s a very active mind inside that head, and you two are obviously doing a wonderful job of helping him exercise it.

  10. Two things strike me about the post & comments. First, my observation is that parents tend to use children as conduits to or shields from the world; you two have done well at adopting the former rather than the latter approach. Second, one of the greatest gifts parents can give children is introducing them to the adult world. It’s relatively easy to enter their world, but infinitely more difficult (and important) to guide them into yours. Jeff, your concern about not knowing how to deal with children is real but unnecessary; my maternal grandfather never reacted with me (or my sons) by entering the world of children, but he always treated me as a capable person and I responded. And Ashley, no one ever outgrows childhood attachments; you will always be Nanny as long as you wish to be, for one of my dearest acquaintances is one of my mother’s friends who was formative in my youngest years. So congratulations to you all: the parents for bringing Eli into their world and the friends for investing in the lives of both generations of friends.

Comments are closed.