"Go long, buddy, go long." That's my grown son talking to his son. They are throwing a football back and forth on the solid ground of the dead end street that fronts their house. Long, wide, down the middle--dad and his buddy are giving that football and themselves a workout.
"Keep your eye on the ball, buddy." That's my son again. This time he's advising his son on hitting a baseball with a bat. It's an art and a science but "buddy" has to watch the ball closely.
"Shoot, buddy, shoot." "Look for the pass, buddy." "Get back, buddy." This time we're at a soccer game and it's not my son shouting to his buddy. It's all the dads. They are offering free coaching advice to their sons who are on the soccer pitch and trying to score or defend against a goal or just be a factor in the game. The calls for buddy to do this and buddy to do that are a cacophonous backdrop. In a way, it's a positive--the buddies can't tell if it's their father is yelling to them or someone else's dad is yelling to a teammate. So they can just concentrate on the coach and the game--or not. There are some daisy-pickers out there.
When did it come to all this buddy-calling? Hang around a soccer game and you're unlikely to hear a dad call to a Mike or Bill or Frank or even to use some home grown nickname, like "slugger."
Is all this "buddy" talk an attempt by our grown children to buddy-up to their children. Be their pals. Should we shout "buddy" when we go to a game? Quick answer: No! We should not shout anything. Not even ''yay, buddy." We are not our grandchildren's pals. That's our grownchildren's job.
One theory behind all this buddy calling comes from psychologist Michele Borba, who was quoted recently in the New York Times, on the topic.Her point: “The gist of Buddy Parenting is the parent’s goal is to be more of a pal than really the parent, the monitor, the overseer. It becomes toxic when you start placing popularity with your kid above establishing limits or saying no.”
We've seen none of that toxicity in our son's household. Limits are firmly set. But we do see gender discrimination. At his daughter's soccer games, neither our son nor any of the other dads or moms give a shout out to buddies--though our son has been heard to call out some coaching encouragement to his daughter. "Good kick, Angel." "Nice hustle, Angel." But he is a loner. Girls aren't buddies to their moms and dads and apparently they aren't angels either. At least not yet.