Let Them talk to you.
There I was sitting at the park when this 8 year old walks past me. Out of the corner of my eye I catch her looking at me, she turns and starts towards me. I am sitting on a bench facing the play ground, keeping my eye on these two little boys that I sometimes babysit. "Ug please keep going" I think to myself.
I am not sure why but my initial reaction to being approached, no matter who it is, is ALWAYS "I hate this." I am racking my brain trying to remember a time, being accepting of the intrusion. I cant.
She stands to the side of me, uncomfortably close. As I try not to make eye contact I hear her say. "Are you someones big sister."
Side note: This is a very common question kids ask me. I am never offended. I realize I look like i'm 16.
We start chatting, and the whole time I am thinking "where is your mother and why is she not seeing that I am being bothered?"
There are two reasons why I wish this wasn't my attitude.
1. Moms need a break.
I am not a mother, but I help raise kids (I nanny) and I am just always around them, I know the feeling of seeing a kid you are responsible for being annoying to someone else, you know you should teach them but deep down you are just so grateful for a 5 min break. I get it.
2. Kids are learning.
I was a very social, very independent, fearless, question everything kind of child. (I know, my poor mom!) I am sure that I had hundreds of conversations with strangers. I had no idea how to interact with people, what kind of questions were not really socially acceptable. I didn't know how to pick up on body language. I was still learning. I am so grateful to all those moms and grandparents who smiled and interacted with me. They taught me that the world has good people. That having positive interactions was common. They made me feel like I was important and funny.
I remember my mom saying "don't do that" and I didn't care, then I would try it in front of a "new friend" and they would say "no, don't do that" and suddenly it clicked. I owe so much of my social skills to these "new friends" I made along the way.
I know those 3 minutes that these kids hang around seems like hours. BUT the influence you can have on them and life lessons you can teach them, are priceless. I have no idea why she was drawn to me and none of the other 4 parents sitting watching their kids play. I do know that I smiled back and made comments like "wow you are so smart", "holy cow how can you run that fast?" and "your mom is so lucky to have you."
That little girl with not remember me, she wont remember what was said, but I hope she remembers feeling important. I hope that stays with her. Even though she had a runny nose, her hair was a strait up hot mess, and her dress was drowning her. I hope she remembers that it didn't matter to me, I still saw her for HER.
Yes I would rather enjoy 20 min of peace playing candy crush on my phone, while the kids I babysit play. Yes the whole time we chat, I am just waiting for you to get bored and leave. And yes I will NOT hesitate to pawn you off on one of my kids if they come within ear shot.
BUT I will always remember the life lessons I learned from "new friends." I will always do my best to pay it forward. I will never ignore you, I will do my best to build you up. I see you.
Not everything I say is fact but, I will always speak my truth.
Thank you for reading!