When it comes to their friends, kids often live in their own worlds. You don't always know if "Julianna," their new "best friend" from daycare is real, but you do know when someone is truly important to their ascendent social life — rather than play it cool, kids are apt to pick each other up like wrestlers, or run at each other for a massive tackle hug. For parents, watching as your child makes friends, and then besties, and then die-hard friends for life over a mutual love of Tyrannosaurs, is heartening: a reminder that yes, the world is bigger than you, but it loves your kid as much as you do.
This was abundantly evident at the September 22 debut of Camp Romper, a day-long summer camp for families filled with activities, music, and food at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. You could loosely describe the event as "Woodstock for children," if Woodstock had bottomless free Popsicles, face painters, and a steady supply of toilet paper. But the lifeblood the events shared was people (kids) living their best life, and hanging with an alarmingly charismatic cast of kindred spirits. Want proof? I talked to eight dads at Camp Romper who told me all about their children's best friends — including one father who thinks his son is a little too attached to a video game, and several whose kids' besties turn out to be none other than their own family members. Put your heart back in its socket and read on to find out what dads had to say about the social lives of our youngest and cutest.
Jake, 36, dad of two
"[My daughter] doesn't have one [best friend]; she has three, and they're all her cousins. Every day, if she's not with them, she says all of their names and keeps asking when she's going to see them again. She loves running around, holding their hands, and playing. I think she's looking for them right now..." (Said as his daughter sprints towards the roller skating rink while pointing towards a group of people.)
Will, 36, dad of one
"All of [my son's] best friends love him and think he's cool; his friends are cool. They all play Fortnite. That's the thing now: Fortnite. I'd actually say his best friend is Fortnite."
Jason, 43, dad of two
"Her best friend is named Amanda. She's a lot smaller than [my daughter] is and they give each other hugs; they hang out."
Alan, 36, dad of one
"Besides Mom, it would be his cousin, who he's always playing with. They play video games, all sorts of things. They sort of let their imaginations run wild, which is great."
Darell, 55, dad of four
"Since [my daughter's] only two-and-a-half, she's got very small best friends [in stature]. But her family members who are her age are her best friends. They get along really well, play the same games, things of that nature. [My daughter] loves being outdoors — running and climbing, skateboarding. But [her best friends] are basically her family."
Simon, 55, dad of three
"My daughter has two best friends — Sonya and Olive — and they both live in the neighborhood and went to preschool with her. Olive has two moms, of which [my daughter] is quite jealous because she only has one mom. Sonya spends two months every summer in Europe, which [my daughter] is also quite jealous of. Olive is one the best-dressed girls in the class; she wore one of her silk ties last week, to which she developed an allergy. My daughter says her and Sonya do silly things."
Quinn, 47, dad of one
"[My son's] best friend is the opposite of him in some ways. He's much more quiet and much more demure, but they're both creative and fun-loving and adventurous."
Kautilya, 32, dad of one
[My son] doesn't have anyone specific yet but we've gone on a few playdates and he likes everyone!"