What's Better Than Having a Best Friend? Having One With the Same Name

Best Friend Ella (left) and our Ella (right)
When I was young, my best friend's name was Brian. We were known around popular circles as "The Brians." We were also a bit cautious of the popular circles, because they were typically in something cool-sounding like "detention" and we were typically in something slightly less cool-sounding like "Math Club." And trust me, Math Club wasn't quite the babe-magnet extracurricular that it is in schools today.

Brian and I did everything together—school projects, backyard whiffleball, riding the bench in soccer with all the other delightful kids who were also very talented at riding the bench in soccer. We dressed as Mario and Luigi for Halloween. We planned to be TV news co-anchors when we grew up, practicing in his parents' basement and recording ourselves with their 1988 video recorder that was roughly the size of Shaquille O'Neil. There are videos to prove this. I assume these videos will only come to light if I run for president or reveal that Brian had a humongous crush on Kelly Monk. So I won't do either.

I bring this up because my eldest daughter Ella has a bestie, and her name is also Ella. "The Ellas" were destined to be best friends since the day they met at our sitter's house. Both were months old. Both were immobile. Both were wearing onesies that said, "If you think I'm cute you should see my dad."

Their friendship has grown over time, like a beautiful garden or a senior trip beeramid.  What was once a relationship of sitting on the couch, using each other's heads as teething rings has blossomed into two kids who hold hands and skip all the way to their classroom door without noticing that I am stuck in the car, caught in the tangled web of the toddler car seat's 5-point seatbelt harness system.

Two dancing friends.
Best Friend Ella's Mom and I share carpooling duties, but (selfishly) I look forward to the days I drive. There isn't much that's more entertaining than listening to 4-year-old besties discuss the challenges of their times and the issues that are near and dear to their hearts.

Our Ella: "Did you see what shirt I'm wearing today?"
Best Friend Ella: "No I didn't. Does it have pink in it?"
Our Ella: "Yes. And so do my socks!"
Best Friend Ella: "So do mine! I'm freaking out about it!"
Our Ella: "I'm freaking out about it too!"

One afternoon, when we were sitting in the dinning room peeling Play D'oh from the underside of the table,1 Ella asked me if she could write a note to her friend and if I could help her spell out some words.

Of course I'd help her spell anything so long as it wasn't a love letter to a boy, in which I'd alter the spelling of the word "love" from "L.O.V.E." to something a little less inviting such as "Y.O.U. T.O.U.C.H. M.Y. D.A.U.G.H.T.E.R. A.N.D. I. W.I.L.L. K.I.L.L Y.O.U." She's lucky I'm a writer and spelling is my strong suit.

"Daddy," she said. "Can you show me how to spell 'Dear Ella, Best Friends Forever, Love Ella.'"

It was at that exact moment I realized that Play D'oh was also embedded in the carpet underneath the table.2 But I ignored it and smiled anyway, happy that my daughter had a best friend whom she cared about so much that she wanted to put it in writing. She's lucky—and I'm lucky to watch their friendship grow from the front seat on my carpool days.

I know it's not a luxury every father gets, so I treasure it like I treasure my memories of filming the news with Brian. And I hope that The Ellas treasure these memories as they grow up, no matter where their lives lead them. I also hope that my other daughters3 are lucky enough to experience the type of friendship that causes them to want to put it in writing.

I really, really hope so.

Wait a minute. I was the one who had a crush on Kelly Monk. Back then, when I told Brian, I was probably freaking out about it.

1 Which no one takes responsibility for, so I can only assume that the table is sweating Play D'oh.  
2 Which, according to my wife, is a castrate-able offense.
3 Who suspiciously have Play D'oh under their fingernails.

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