H ere’s the thing about boys. They won’t reveal their friends’ names. Friends of boys are just “people.” That’s their name: “people.”

Strange, right? Because most people I know have names. In fact, I know many boys who actually have names, but my boys’ friends do not have names.

How do I know this? Because every time I ask the following questions, the answer is always the same. The answer is “people.”

Who are you rooming with this year?

Who do you sit with at lunch?

Who is your best friend?

This is exclusively a boy phenomenon. I know, because I have a daughter, too. When I ask her similar questions — let’s say, “Who do you sit with at lunch?” — her answer goes something like this: “Oh, usually Rivky, and sometimes Sara and Kayla and Leah. But Sara has been absent a lot, so then for sure I sit with Rivky. And last week it was so crazy, because Chana wanted to sit with us and Chana is friendlier with Sara, so it felt a little bit weird to have her sit with us at first, but we all really like Chana, so it was kind of nice….”

I get lots of names and lots of other information as well. My daughter does not have one friend named “people.”

When it comes to my boys, I had to satisfy myself with this vagueness and evasiveness, because my husband — who once was a boy himself — assures me this is very normal behavior for a boy.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. One of my sons went on a summer tour to Israel without knowing a soul. He is a pretty friendly guy — I mean, he is friends with lots of “people” — so I wasn’t too worried about him. Still, I wanted to know if he made friends, and who with. Is that too much to ask?

Yes, I found out, it is too much to ask. My son was true to form. When I spoke to him, he was rooming with “people,” friends with “people,” sitting at lunch with “people,” learning with “people,” touring with “people,” and playing basketball with “people.”

Frankly, you would think he wasn’t on a summer tour in Israel but perhaps in training for the Shin Bet. He would be a shoo-in. He would never give over any of these boy’s names.

But this time I persisted. I felt desperate to learn a name, a real live name, and I found a perfect in. He called me one Erev Shabbos as he was on a bus back to his campus after an afternoon in Yerushalayim.

“How is it going, Chaim?” I asked.

“Great, good, it’s fun.” I got sidetracked for a moment because he used three adjectives, almost a full sentence. I was shocked. But still I plodded on. “So, do you have any friends that you think you’ll stay in touch with after you come back?”

“Maybe. Maybe some people…”

“Anyone in particular?”

“I don’t know, maybe some people…” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 574)