“Mommy,” my 4-year-old says. “You’re my best friend!”
“That’s sweet,” I respond.
“And…?” she says, clearly angling for me to respond differently.
“And I love you,” I say.
She stands there, still waiting for a different answer. She looks like Oliver Twist. I fully expect her to break out a British accent and ask for more porridge.
“And?” she says again. “You didn’t say I’m your best friend back.”
“Well, that’s because you’re not my best friend, ” I say inside my own thought bubble. I don’t want to hurt the kid’s feelings, but I don’t want to lie either. So I keep that to myself and try to distract her with something sparkly. But the truth is, kids make the worst best friends.
See, when I hear mom friends of mine refer to their infants, toddlers or even teens as their best friend, I can’t help but feel sorry for them. These are clearly people who have never had a real best friend. I mean, when was the last time your best friend threw food all over your car and then screamed at you because you asked her to pick it up? And let’s face it: ten minutes before a child says, “Mommy, you’re my best friend,” that child has said the same thing to Peppa pig, an invisible unicorn, or a broken Lego they found on the floor.
Me, I have a real live grown-up best friend. We’ve been friends since high school. In that time, she’s never told me I have a big tummy, nor has she asked why my breath smells like yucky. And she cleans up her crap in the back of my car without an incentive plan. Nope, my child is not my best friend. And here’s why.
1. Children never pay, best friends do. When was the last time your 5-year-old said, “No, let me get the check”? Never, right? A real best friend pays, too.
2. Best friends don’t deprive your of sleep. Picture this: your best friend has a bad dream. So she calls you at 3 a.m. to tell you she’s scared. And then she says needs water. And if you could rub her back that would be nice. And then she calls back to tell you the covers aren’t right, and it’s all your fault. Then she calls you back at 4 a.m. to ask if she can be done sleeping. And yes, she’d like you to be done sleeping too.
3. My best friend does not hand me her trash. I’ve had the same best friend for years. In that time she has never, ever placed her empty fruit gummy wrapper in my hand. She hasn’t dropped Pirate’s Booty on the floor and then, after stepping on it and mashing it into sandstone, handed it to me. Likewise, my best friend has never seen a bruised banana, acted like it was poison, and then screamed, “No you eat it!” My kids have.
4. Children make you pay for your own birthday present. Can you imagine if your bestie said, “For your birthday I want to buy you a scarf, but you’ll need to drive me to the store and pay for it”? Best friends don’t make you buy your own gift.
5. Kids always make you drive! Just once, don’t you want sit back of the car napping in the car seat while your best friend navigates traffic to get you to swimming on time? It’s so not happening.
6. A real best friend lets you pick what you do sometimes. I’ve had the same best friend for twenty years and she’s never said, “Unless we go to the park, I’m not going.” My kids say it all the time.
7. My best friend doesn’t need help finding her shoes. My best friend does not hold me wholly responsible for finding her hoodies, lunchbox, homework folder and shoes. Nor does she say, “I dunno,” when I ask where they are.
8. Best friends are on time. It doesn’t matter how early I wake or how prepared I am, my children will make me late with their, “One more minute” and, “But I just have to do one more thing.” Worse case scenario, my best friend is ten minutes late to dinner and she’ll always text to say she’s running late. My children never text to say they’re late. They just scream, “One more minute!”
9. Best friends don’t tell you the same story 1,234 times per day. There’s simply never a time when you go out to dinner with a friend and they tell you about the same ninja they told you about the last time you had dinner. Best friends do not bore their friends to tears. Children…well, children do like to hear themselves talk. And talk. And talk.
10. My best friend doesn’t cheat on me with other best friends. The thing about being best friends is the relationship is mutual. It’s about as close to a committed relationship as marriage is, and both parties have proprietary rights on the other as best friends. Best friendship comes with privileges that include off-hours phone calls, venting about spouses without thinking that means divorce, and holding grudges on the other’s behalf. But kids have a new best friend every hour, from the person they sat next to at lunch, to their favorite toy, to their favorite character on their favorite TV show, to you. That’s not how it works, kids! Best friendship is a commitment, people! It’s almost legal.
So even though you’re in a committed relationship with your best friend, there is no deeper relationship than parent and child. But if your kids could stop handing you their trash and waking you up at 3 a.m., that would be nice too, right?
Related post: The 10 Mom Friends Every Mom Needs