I love watching our boys make new friends. They teach me constantly about having no judgment and to get over myself and possibly try branching out and making new friends. I mean, how easy it is for them to just go up to a kid their age and say, “Hey, want to play tag?” at the park. They don’t care what they look like, they don’t care that their outfit doesn’t really match and that their shoes have holes in them. Why can’t I do that as often as they do it?
‘Ummm, hi there chick talking on your iphone…want to quit acting like we’re in serious conversations on our cell phones and maybe talk about our kids latest embarrassing meltdown in Target the other day?’ I mean, HOW hard can that be?
It takes some serious courage whether you’re outgoing (like I think I can be), or not! Especially these days with all of the smart phones that exists. It’s much more comfortable to play Words With Friends or Google the latest TomKat news than it is to talk to another mom at the park whom we do not know…yet.
I think our kids have a lot to teach us. Especially on dissolving our egos, letting go of that little guy on our shoulders whispering, ‘how embarrassed would you be if you asked that woman if she’d like to get together with her kids for a play date and she said, “ummmm no thanks, weirdo!”
Today, I was put to the official test…by my oldest son. Yes, I took them to one of those fast food play areas. It was our first time ever visiting this restaurant and my kids thought we had just arrived at Disneyland. You know their little minds were thinking, ‘why has Mom been hiding this place from us all these years?’ It was 107 degrees outside and we had run a few errands and they needed to get rid of some energy. So, I caved and stopped at “that happy place” as my middle son calls it.
In we walk and straight back to the play area we go. We are greeted by the most adorable little girl, holding the door open for us. Her mom who was sitting nearby says, “Oh my goodness when she saw you guys getting out of your car, she was beside herself delighted!” I told her how cute I thought that was and entered in what I thought to be, the germ infested play area. To my surprise it was very clean and bright…but that’s beside the point.
What happened in this little play area was so refreshing to watch. This little girl named, Natalie was probably one of the sweetest 7 year olds I’ve ever met. I knew right away she was an old soul. She talked my ear off and couldn’t stop ooohing and awwwing over our little baby and told my oldest two boys 15 times that they had the cutest little brother. She also invited them to play with her and of course, they didn’t think twice. Within seconds, they were all best friends. In enters another boy about 5 and joins their game of “tag.” Like they’d been buddies for years.
When it came time to have dinner, we sat next to the window looking into the play area. As most of you can relate when you go to these sort of restaurants with play areas, my boys ate about 3 bites before asking if they could be excused and off they went. Meanwhile, Natalie’s mom came over to our table. She started out her conversation with, “I hope you don’t think I’m strange by telling you this, but I just can’t help myself. You have the sweetest boys. I can just tell by watching them interact with Natalie and that other boy in there. I hope Natalie isn’t bothering you too much. She just loves babies and she is really great about meeting new friends. It’s funny how kids make it look so easy to make new friends.”
I agreed and told her of a similar story that had just happened to us at the store we stopped at before spotting “the Happy Place.” I also thanked her and told her I could tell by the way Natalie interacted with my boys and also with the things Natalie shared with me while I was in the play area, that she was a special girl. We talked about a few other things and then she went back to her seat.
As we started to leave with much resistance from my boys, I said goodbye to the mom and to Natalie and thanked her for playing so nicely with my boys. It was one of those awkward moments, where we actually talked so much that I sort of felt like we should exchange numbers so that we could get together for a play date…but then my ego got the best of me and said, ‘you don’t know her and she doesn’t know you and that’s weird.’
But is it that weird? I mean, how else do we meet new people. Is she really any different than meeting a new mom at your kid’s pre-school or meeting a new co-worker in the break room? Why are we so reluctant to make new friends as we age? Is it our egos which create our fears that this person could be harmful because we don’t know anything about them?
Believe you me, I understand about the “real world” out there. I’m working on changing my thoughts when a fearful thought tries to enter. And I’m as protective of my kids as the next hovering helicopter mom out there.
At any rate, we all packed into the car and as I’m buckling our baby into his car seat my oldest child says, “So Mom…did you get her number?” Trying not to smile because I felt he was reading my thoughts exactly, our conversation went like this:
Me: “No honey, I didn’t get her number.”
Him: “Why not? I really wanted you to get her number.” (in a sweet innocent voice)
Me: “Whose number? Natalie’s number?”
Him: “Well, Natalie’s Mom’s number so I can play with her.” (Like, duh Mom, Natalie doesn’t have a phone)
Me: “Baby, I barely know his mom.” (As these words are coming out of my mouth, I’m thinking…does that even matter, though?)
Him: “Mom, PUUUHHH LEEEEAAASE go get her number. She was sooo nice! I want to play with her again.
Me: “Alright, let’s go get it!”
The rest is history…we exchanged numbers and although it did feel very “strange” to get a “stranger’s” number, I did it! It was like saying, “Tag, You’re It” at the park and hoping that our higher selves would make the ego-selves (get over ourselves) and dissolve. It actually was so freeing.
We’re setting up our next public play date at a park and who knows, we might just play a game of tag too!