It would have been quite easy for the boy to surround himself with fools. Teenagers, after all, are experts at such things—you know, dragging the stoner/loser/loudmouth/wise ass/troublemaking dummy to the house and putting him/her off on family. What really ends up sucking the big one is if your kid starts picking up the traits of said stoner/loser/loudmouth/wise ass/troublemaking dummy, or, worse, he winds up being that kid.
Thankfully, my Mazi is a pretty good kid most days. And he happens to keep great company. For sure, Nick and I get quite a kick out of his best friends, Chad and Eddie, a sweet, delightful duo who bring great joy and plenty of laughter to our home whenever they darken our doorway.
Chad is being pursued by some of the top colleges in the country right now because of his skills on the basketball court, and he's also shaping up to be one of the top receivers on the football team. He stands at a cool 6' 7" and, next to my barely 5' 1" frame, he kind of puts you in the mind of a giant tree. But he's a super sweet giant tree. He's a country boy—never been any further north than Tennessee—but his southern charm is absolutely infectious. He's been teaching my boy how to fish, calls me "ma'am," can hold a grown-up conversation and get down on level with my girls and make them giggle, and, get this, helped me clean my kitchen after Mari's raucous, super-messy, 10th birthday party. He did my dishes, y'all. And dried them. And washed down the counters. And then asked me if I needed help with anything else.
Um, yeah. Chad can come through anytime! Best believe I hooked him up with a big plate of ribs, 11-cheese macaroni and cheese, and collards for being the most helpful party attendee that day.
And then there's Ed, the hustler. Just say his name around these parts, and every body falls out in laughter. The kid is, simply, Chris Rock/Dave Chappelle/old school Eddie Murphy hysterical—keeps us in stitches from the moment he hits the door until well after he's gone. Case in point: Here is a picture of Eddie at Mari's party, with Kermit the Frog painted on his face, to the delight of 10-year-olds everywhere.
What's also cool about Eddie is that even at age 17, he's quite the hustler. A budding fashion designer, he designs and sells his own t-shirts, and has two blogs, AtitAgain.net, which he runs with his girlfriend, Tai Destiny, and B4DaHype, which is the perfect display of his eclectic, super hip tastes.
I know they're going to clown me and call me a cornball, but I adore Chad and Eddie, and treasure them like they're my own sons. They're good boys. And I'm proud of Mazi for choosing well. I think it says a lot about the kind of kid he is, and makes me quite proud, considering that we've been preaching to the child for forever and two days the importance of surrounding himself with people who will make him a better man. Be clear: Nick and I don't let just anybody hang with the Chiles children; you've got to come from good stock, meaning you and yours are respectful, decent, intelligent, helpful, kind, open-minded people who will add value—a long-lasting, loving, worthwhile friendship—to our family.
It's good to see that Mazi was listening.