“Do you want a coffee?”
“Yes, I’d love one,” I say as I settle myself on my friend’s sofa.
“Good. Make me one while you’re at it,” she quips.
Have you noticed that only a best friend will tell you to make your own coffee when you go over for a visit?
And you know the friendship is solid when they give you a spare key to their home; it’s actually handy to be able to let yourself in when your friend’s running late, even though they’re expecting you.
“I’ll put the kettle on, shall I?” I say over the phone as I head into the kitchen.
The key exchange was initiated many years ago after I’d picked up Jen and Nick from school one day; we'd sat idly in the car for half an hour waiting for their mum to return home from the supermarket.
Having the spare key also meant I was no longer stranded at the front door when the kids and their parents frolicked in the backyard pool, oblivious to my relentless ringing of the door bell.
In fact, once I acquired the spare key, none of them bothered opening the front door for me, knowing I’d ring the bell once, and then let myself in.
Well, isn't that what good friends are for?
“Dad!” I often heard the kids yell out when they heard the front door open, “put some clothes on before you come out of the bathroom - Hari’s here.”
Of course, being the Holder of the Spare Key carried its share of responsibilities:
“I’ll be home in about an hour,” the kids’ mum would say, “can you chop up some carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and whatever else you find in the fridge and make a salad for dinner.”
“Can you pick up some milk and bread on your way over here?”
“The kids need to be at swim club by 4.30pm. Their swim bags are already packed by the front door.”
“If you get home before me, can you get the washing off the line before it rains?”
And so on. But then, that’s what friends are for.
While I gladly took the kids to swim club, sat through their school concerts, athletics/swimming carnivals, and soccer/netball games, even best friends have to draw the line on unreasonable expectations.
I’m not getting on that!
“Can you both come on the ride with me?”
“You’re the mother,” I pointed out, looking meaningfully at Jen’s mum.
“But you’re the babysitter, that’s your job.”
“I’ll be totally sick if I get on that,” I replied.
“Well, I’m not getting on it; I'll get dizzy.”
Jen sighed audibly as she rolled her eyes in disbelief.
“I don’t want to go on the ride on my own,” she pleaded.
“We’ll wave at you from the side,” I offered.
“Don’t be such a woos,” Jen’s mum said. Meaning me, that is.
“Seriously, I’ll be really sick if I get on that.”
“Please, can one of you come on the ride with me?”
“Sorry, Jen, my stomach won’t handle it either,” said her mum, “you’ll just have to go on your own.”
Jen was, after all, 11 years old at the time. We gave her our blessing and pushed her towards the ride. It wasn’t that she was scared; she just wanted company.
But it was now time to let her fly on her own. Literally.
We watched as the ride picked up speed, chairs whirling through the air, Jen’s feet dangling as she cast her disapproving gaze towards us.
We’d been having an enjoyable girls’ day out at the Sydney Royal Easter Show up until Jen wanted to go on the amusement rides.
“I feeling nauseous just looking at her,” said Jen’s mum.
“You won’t get me on those rides, either.”
I can handle dodgem cars and anything that stays on the ground; I just don’t have the stomach for anything that goes round in circles, leaves the ground, or travels up and down at speed.
Besides, it wasn’t in my babysitting contract - and there’s a limit to what friends are for.
What would/wouldn’t you do for your best friend?
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS