The father read it on his son’s face.  He felt it through his little boy’s eyes: focused and downward, seeing nothing, but fixed in concentration upon an object that wasn’t there.  He knew the look.  It was his.  Something wasn’t right, and he could sense it in their space apart. 
                “You alright?” He asked his boy. 
                “Yes,” his son answered.  “I’m just mad.”
                “Any reason?”
                “No.”  The boy paused, “Maybe, but I don’t want to talk about it.”
                “I understand, and I won’t make you; but I’m here if you want to.”
                As they walked a little farther together, the tension in his son’s frame lessened.  In his expanded ease, the little boy released more words.  “I’m just mad.  I thought somebody wanted to be my friend, and I did too, and I was really happy, and then I wasn’t, and now I don’t know.  I’m embarrassed.”
                “I just feel silly.”
                “For what?”
                “Saying I wanted to be their friend and not knowing if they did too.”
                “There’s nothing silly about that.  That’s normal, and I wouldn’t worry.”
                “Because friendship isn’t a yes or no answer.  It’s an act.  They don’t need to tell you.  If they want to be, they will, and if not, there are plenty of others that do.”
                “Dad, how do you know if someone wants to be?”
                “If I knew, I’d have more myself.  I think, if someone does, you’ll just know.  They won’t give up on you the first time they try, just like you shouldn’t give up trying, if you still want to be theirs.  Everybody’s different.  People learn, see, and want friends all in their own time, and if it’s right, it will happen.  You won’t have to force it.  You’re a good boy and I know you’ll make good friends.  You have some already.”
                “Yeah,” the boy answered meekly.  “I just really wanted to be her friend.”
                The friend changed in the father’s mind hearing the soft emphasis in his son’s words.
                “And maybe you still will,” the father answered.  “You have time.”
                “How do you know?”
                “Because I was a boy too.”
                “I just feel weird.  I was really happy, and then I wasn’t, and now I don’t know what I am.  I don’t like it.  I just wish it’d go away.” 
                “One day, that may change.”
                “Because one day you will understand there’s something to it.  There’s a reason why you feel like you do.  I said I didn’t want those feelings.  I said I didn’t want the highs and lows and extremes, but the moments we remember and feel strongest after their experience—the times that shape the peace and calm, and gratitude that follows after—they come from these extremes.  The extremes are inflection points where lives change, that lead to what life becomes—the stories we tell and share—when we are living an after, or merely present, happiness.  I said I didn’t want the extremes, but when I think about it, I don’t know what life would be without them.”
                “Do they go away?”
                “Sometimes.  And when they do, you might miss them.”
                “I don’t know…You’ll understand when you live it.”
                “Does it ever get better?”
                “Sometimes, but if you really care, it’ll come back.  That’s what it means, that it means something to you and you care.”
                “What means something?”
                “You’ll understand when you live it.”  They stopped walking, and the father spoke standing, speaking straight to the boy.  “If you want to be her friend, keep trying.  She might feel the same way.”
                “How do you know?” the little boy asked.
                “I don’t.”
                He witnessed the change come over his son’s face. 
                The extremes resided from the boy.  His body eased of tension.  His eyes rose from the ground and saw their shared world again.  His boy found a peace.
                “Thanks Dad.”
                “For what?”
                “I don’t know,” and they both understood.


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