When my first son was two months old, some friends gave him Tad for Christmas. From the moment the exuberant frog with huge eyes shouted, “I have a foot, just like you! We both have feet, we both have two!” Keith was mesmerized. We couldn’t get Tad out of his packaging quickly enough—our baby wanted to get his hands on that frog immediately. It was extraordinary to witness. (Thanks, Kathy and Tom!)

Over the course of the next year, Tad shared with Keith his first rice cereal, made the transition with him from cradle to crib, and helped him construct sand castles at Sandy Hook.

Unlike his brother, Nate selected Puppy as his BFF.

With such a solid bond established early on, it’s no wonder Puppy didn’t stand a chance.

Bestowed upon Keith by my friend Sarah on his first birthday, Puppy came to Keith offering more features—more songs, more blinking—but, alas, our loyal son simply wasn’t into him. Time and again, Puppy was tossed aside (literally) as Keith retrieved his beloved Tad from the toy bin. Poor Puppy.

Enter Nate several years later. Our smiley new baby was as alert as his brother, and, by the two-month mark, exhibited a clear preference for Puppy’s varied songs and games. It sounds silly, but I was so happy that Puppy had, at long last, found a friend. (And that Sarah's wonderful intentions—she'd actually researched whether Puppy would be a good gift—came to fruition). I also loved that my boys had come to their own conclusions about which companions they preferred.

Like all parents, I look to such behavior as evidence of specific personality traits and clues into the future. What makes these guys tick? Will I ever know? Who will become their BFFs (actual human ones)? This month’s feature article explores such questions and wisely cautions parents to step aside when necessary. Good advice. I’ve found it difficult to let nature take its course at my primary reference at this point, the playground. During a recent excursion, Keith approached a boy, asking, “Do you want to be my friend? I’ll be nice to you.” When rebuffed with “I don’t care!” Keith wanted to go home. I wanted to scream, “You will hang out with my child, and you will like it!” but I held back and later explained to crestfallen Keith that sometimes he’ll face inexplicable disappointments like this. He’ll make friends, I promised. Good ones.

For now, Keith has his cousins and his Lego figures. (Tad mostly hangs out with Nate and Puppy these days.) And, my boys will always have each other. Forever.

Who’s your kid’s BFF? Who was yours? Join the conversation – comment below!