Are rare, but are one of the best aspects of life, if not the best.

As I age, I value my close friendships more than ever. I also understand they are fragile and require regular attention.

I don’t believe they should be perpetually difficult. If I’m the one instigating 90% of the interactions, something isn’t right. Reciprocation is healthy and keeps a balance to things.

Moving away from friends has been a regular part of my life. Few survive the distance. Those that do may become stronger.

I wish I had more friends. But that’s probably more of a reflection in me than anyone else.

Giving Thanks

After the last of the meat was removed from the turkey, the dishes placed in the dishwasher, left-overs bagged and put in the fridge for tomorrow, I had a few moments to contemplate the day without hungry kids pulling at my sweatshirt.

The week had been a rough one with Kim having tooth pain and two root canals within a 4-day period. A couple of kids were coming off illness that kept them home from school. Like most holidays, Thanksgiving snuck up on us while we weren’t quite ready to face it. With new meds in hand, we decided on Thanksgiving Eve at 9:30 pm while standing in the bakery at Harmon’s that we would attempt to make a traditional dinner because that’s what our kids wanted more than anything over the fall break.

And we pulled it off. Well, we were not ready to eat till 6:30 pm, but we prepared the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams and the pumpkin cream pies that take two hours of constant stirring over a hot stove.

I sat at the table and listened to the kids tell corny jokes to their aunt and uncle whom our kids love to death. At one point, Anna’s laugh so we obnoxiously ear-piercing loud that I considered asking her to tone it down a notch. But I decided to sit back and let it go because they don’t have this opportunity to laugh and spend time with aunts and uncles and cousins very often.

Later in the evening Kim’s brother and spouse stopped by with two more relatives from Costa Rica. Our living room was so full of kids that the adults sat on the floor next to our lit but otherwise undecorated Christmas tree. I sat back against the wall exhausted from the day’s activities and watched the kids run back and forth. Our guests from Costa Rica spoke Spanish to each other while my brother-in-law translated for them. Luca played Christmas tunes on the piano while the boys played Super Smash Brothers.

I loved every minute of it.

In spite of a tough week of sickness, we ended it on a high note with family and friends. The food tasted wonderful, but what made the day special was spending it with people who value our friendship and accept us as we are.

Lunch Detention

I found myself in the principal’s office this morning. Sitting across the desk in my University of Utah hoodie, I explained how my son had been bullied by another student this past week.

At least I think he’d been bullied. My son is in first grade, and he loves to tell stories about how he’s been wronged on the playground. My job as his father is to believe his version of the story. One day he had scratches on his face. The next day his lip was swollen and bloodied.

And then yesterday he ran to the car after school to tell his mom he’d been placed on lunch detention. I have no idea what lunch detention is, but it sounds as serious as a heart attack.

So I made an appointment to speak with the principal.

Had this been my first child, I would have acted rationally and notified the police, called an attorney and notified the local news station. But this is my fourth child, and I wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy to meet with the principal without a Diet Coke because I stayed up too late watching Seinfeld reruns.

I explained to the principal what my son had told me. He listened. He then asked a few questions before telling me his plan to solve the issue. I told him how much my four oldest children enjoy attending his school. We shook hands, and I returned home.

One benefit of having children at a later age is that I feel more prepared for these situations. Sure, I want to make sure my son isn’t injured at recess. But I don’t pretend to have all the details of what happened on the playground last week. My son can be agitating at times. OK, much of the time. It’s very possible he’s as much to blame as the other boy.

Before my son went to school this morning, Kim sat next to him and asked, “Can you think of something nice to say to this boy? Maybe he just needs a friend.”

I like that approach. We all need a friend.