Ask your Dad
By Gabe Holmstrom
I’m the guy who has a buddy for everything. Hunting buddy. Contractor buddy. Boat buddy. Plumbing buddy. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to get a call from someone who asks, "Do you know someone who can do…?" And, my typical response is, "Yep, I’ve got a buddy who does that."
So a few months ago, my son, Gus, a tow-headed, fort-building 5-year-old, started calling me his best buddy. My first thought was, “Hey this is pretty cool.” We build pillow forts, dinosaur Lego traps and generally make a mess of the living room—and everywhere we go. How awesome is this?
Then it started to sink it. My mind went into hyper-drive and I’m thinking about him as a teenager, who I find myself in disagreement with, and who most certainly would not consider me to be his best buddy in that moment. What happens then? Do you ever get to be best buddies again? I have no clue. I’m not an expert in child raising or a pro parent by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that I was asked to write this is laughable! I let him eat cookies for breakfast, and not just on special occasions either!
Sixteen-year-old Gus is not going to be my best buddy when I make him mow the yard for the second or third time to get it right. He definitely won’t be calling me his best buddy when I take the car keys, iPhone or whatever all-important electronic device exists in the future. And, I can only imagine the look on his face when I send him back to his room to finish the homework he was supposed to have done already.
How do I know that a version of these things is coming? Because, that's what buddies do. They learn and know each other’s personalities, their tendencies, their habits. I know he will try to push the limit to see what he can get away with, but then hopefully fall back in line. I think that is just part of life. Right along with being told “no,” and failing.
I look forward to those times, to be there for him when he tries and fails at something. I hope he will grow from those experiences, just as not being allowed to do something will make him learn as well.
I'm OK with not being his best buddy then. That's not what he deserves or will need at that point—he will need his dad. He’ll need me to tell him to get back on the bike and try again, to kick the soccer ball one more time, to show him how to assemble something once and let him do it on his own after that. It’s my hope this will make him a better person and a better friend to his buddies.
All of this said, there will be plenty of time in the future to work on these life lessons with him. In the meantime, I’m going to fully take advantage of being a best buddy—eating cookies for breakfast and building the most outrageous forts possible with every single pillow and sheet in the house.
Gabe Holmstrom has been the executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership since 2015. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he studied political science, and lives in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District with his wife, Katherine, and son, Gus.