The Lonely American Boy.

The Lonely American Boy.

I think it began when he was in first grade. Every so often a teary-eyed Buddy would come to me, with mumbles from slobbery lips,

I don't have anyone to play with.
I don't have a best friend.
How come sissy has sleepovers and I don't?

My usual response was a compassionate explanation of how boys don't schedule playdates and sleepovers like girls - they are just different went it comes to playing outside of school and organized sports.

Recently on vacation he was enjoying more 'alone time,' and while the girl cousins played, he made use of my dad's Netflix subscription. I walked into the den to find him watching Captain Underpants, a movie I would have frowned upon had his apparent loneliness not made me a pushover. I kept my sighs below the sound of the potty humor and his resulting giggles.

Over the course of our visit, he watched the movie at least three more times. I wasn't sure what part of the Captain Underpants plot he connected with, but the attraction was apparent. 

And then it happened.

He asked me to search for a song from the movie on my phone. The song was, "A Friend Like You," by Andy Grammer. It's a catchy tune and the lyrics of the chorus hit me like a punch in the gut,

Dude, I love you, bro, I love you
Man, I love you
You're my brother from another, 'nother mother
You are my favorite, I'm not ashamed to admit
Cause I do, dude, I do
Dude, I love you, bro, I love you
Man, I love you
You're my homie, no one knows me like you know me
Like the sun and the moon, all the best things comes in two
What would I do without a friend like you?

Captain Underpants told the story of the friendship he'd longed for.

On our drive home I spent time catching up on some of my favorite podcasts. The Hidden Brain from NPR is always part of that listening. How timely it was for me to hear an episode entitled, "The Lonely American Man." (episode plays below)

Little did I know I was perpetuating a culture that leaves men, both young and old, alone and broken. By dismissing my son's longing for companionship and chalking the gaping hole in his heart up to masculinity, I was teaching him to expect loneliness to be his norm. That's just the way it is when you're a dude.

While reflecting on all this I couldn't help but think of the Biblical story of King David and his best friend, Jonathan.

...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1

I bet they would have sung the Captain Underpants song to each other.

I've made a resolution to help Buddy find friends that might be future soul-knitters. And I hope my discovery helps us all remain mindful of the emotional needs of our sons - especially those families whose work and ministry requires frequent relocation.

W-w-w-w-what would I do?
Without a friend like you?
Land That I Love.

Land That I Love.

Shelf-Stable Supper - Curry Pumpkin Bisque