My kids have good friends.

I'm lucky, and my kids are even luckier.

We live in a suburb of Minneapolis with neighborhoods that run the gamut from Section 8 housing right up to clusters of multi-million dollar mansions built on their very own lake. With a nice large section of "middle class" in there.

I attended high school with approximately 4 black kids. A smattering of Russian kids, a few from Vietnam. My best friends were all white girls, all middle-class, all either Lutheran, Jewish or Catholic. Hardly any came from single parent homes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'll add. I had some kick ass friends. But I look at the people who have snuggled up to my babies thus far in their lives, and I am amazed at what I see.

Last night my Henry slept over at one of his best friend's houses. This friend is from Ethiopia. They've been buds since kindergarten, and even now that this friend has moved to a city a little ways away they are keeping the friendship going. Henry has been to parties with this kid, Ethiopian parties filled to the brim with food, language, music, etc. all straight from Africa. Henry has eaten goat. Seriously? You can't buy this kind of education. Well, I guess there are some pretty cool camps here in Minnesota where your child can be immersed in a culture for a few weeks but they cost more than my life is currently worth, so I'll rephrase that: I can't buy this kind of education. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

One of Molly's best friends is from Bosnia. She and her family are Muslim. Her parents lived there and saw things that I couldn't imagine, don't want to imagine. And here they are in Minnesota. If you saw my daughter and this girl together, you'd see two tall, goofy girls. One with curly blond hair, the other with straight brown hair. You'd never look at them and say, "Hey, one of them is Muslim." Knowing someone of this faith has made for some interesting discussions here at our house. Especially now during the whole mosque issue. Hard to classify Muslims as evil, American-hating terrorists when one of them is painting her toenails in your living room. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

One of Charlie's best friends has been in his life since he was 3. They were in pre-school together, and this particular boy happens to be the son of my former BFF, Big Red. I call him "Little Red" or "Ginger" due to the fact that he inherited his mommy's fire-red tresses. This kid and Charlie have been through some interesting stuff, including their moms going from best friends to icy strangers. Little Red's dad is the one who stepped up and helped me through the child support/foreclosure nightmare. I know that at some point, it was suggested to Little Red that he not hang out with my Charlie anymore. That Charlie's bad choices and such were not becoming features for a friend. But they stuck it out. I think they're learning a lot from each other, even now that they are big bad high schoolers. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

William and his friend "O" are in my bed, right this second, watching t.v. and eating popcorn. This boy's mom and I went to preschool together, right here in this very neighborhood I am sitting in now. She and I were best friends all through elementary school and then went our separate ways. We ended up running into each other many years ago, I was outside in the front yard of my old house, she waddled up and announced that she and her husband had just moved into a house around the corner. She was very pregnant with her second child, and her first child just happened to be a little boy the exact same age as my William. We have all been friends ever since. A year and a half ago, this friend's husband died. Suddenly, without warning, he left this earth. I struggled to comfort my friend and watched as William comforted "O". I'm grateful that these two are friends.

For every friend that I've described here there are at least 3 or 4 others who have all been there for my kids. Children from every walk of life, every income, every race. I've been lucky enough to become friends with the parents of several of them, and my life is richer for that, too.

Sure, there have been some shady ones, some Eddie Haskell-wanna be types. Some have taught my kids that not everyone on this planet is to be trusted. Others have come and gone just because that's the nature of childhood friendships. But every one of them has left their mark.

And some of these marks, I promise to never go near them with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Some of these marks are staying.

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