Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Innocence of Making Friends

"My name is Carol Elizabeth Burns. ....what's your name?"

This is a typical introduction my daughter now gives when meeting someone for the first time. She's a total sweetheart, and doesn't yet fully grasp that not everyone is friendly.

When she goes to the playground, she'll introduce herself to any new kids around. Usually she'll follow up with "wanna play with me?" -- which is humorous, since most kids her age still don't fully play "together" save but for a few spurts of energy here and there.

Since I was painfully shy as a kid, I love to see her social side flourishing as it is. It has taken me YEARS to be more outgoing, and at times, I still retrieve back in to my shy-shell.

But not my li'l Peanut! At least not around kids. Sometimes, she must first warm up to adults -- a process that tends to take but a few minutes, until then, she stays firmly wrapped around mine or Tim's waist, head buried in our neck. Moments later, she'll begin to boss the new guy around.

As a parent, I want to preserve this sweet innocence of hers. I want her to always believe that everyone is, indeed, her friend. However, the inevitability of that bubble being burst both frightens and saddens me. She's many times already not been greeted nicely by other children, most of whom I think are just taken aback by her forwardness. In any case, children should learn to at least smile or wave back when another kid says "hello" to them, especially older kids being greeted by younger kids!

So, until that day comes, I am lapping up her sweet, friendly nature... Even when she takes it a step further: after introducing herself to a dad on the playground the other evening, she then gestured over to me and explained, "and that's my mommy, Barbara Burns."

I just pray that if Tim or I are present when someone is mean to her, and makes her see the world as a less-friendly place, we can keep our Mamma Bear and Pappa Bear instincts in check, yet also comfort her and assure her that there are -indeed- many nice friends in this world.

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