My oldest son turns nine today. He runs loudly and carries a big stick. Literally everywhere he goes outdoors (and indoors if I don’t have my Spidey senses engaged) he carries a stick.
Recently his overzealous little brother put his favorite stick through the mulcher by accident. He couldn’t know. He doesn’t share his brother’s enthusiasm for stick companionship. All the sticks look the same to him and they all belong in the mulcher.
The birthday boy was livid. And then devastated. He proceeded into a 10 minute rant on how he would never find another stick as good as that one. We live on 18 acres of Michigan woods. It will be warm in winter here before we run out of sticks.
The next day he runs up to me panting. “Guess what! I found an even better stick!”
If I could gift my not-so-little boy anything for his ninth birthday it would be the belief that things are always getting better. And if for some reason his stick (job, partner, house, etc…) goes missing, if he just believes that something better is on the way and keeps his eyes open for it, it will be here in no time.
That’s totally a socially awkward person thing to ask. Which is why i’m asking. I just dropped my kids off for their first day of school. I thank my lucky stars that they are perfectly well adjusted and eager to interact with people who are not yet their friends. I was a mess.
As we slowly ushered our kids into their classroom I realized our neighbor has a kid in the same class. This seems a perfectly appropriate conversation starter and opportunity to say something normal like, “Hey, how was your summer?” I picked that one up from other parents interacting nearby in the hall. The thing is, I haven’t actually interacted with this neighbor for about 7 years. When we first moved into the neighborhood she invited me over for lunch. I quickly established myself as ridiculously socially awkward…oversharing details you should probably never tell someone you just really met. Ever since we try to not only pretend we don’t know one another, but that we don’t even see one another.
I’m pretty sure word has gotten out about what a mistake it would be to try to make small talk with me. Or maybe my face just reads, “I have no idea how to answer seemingly simple questions gracefully…or do anything gracefully for that matter.” I’m now avoided like the parental plague. Which would be fine with me if I weren’t required to be mere inches from these people on a regular basis.
For the record, it’s only small talk I can’t handle. If any one of these people needed someone to talk to about something big, important, uncomfortable, deep, or life changing, I’d be their lady. It would seem they aren’t looking for that kind of relationship in the school pickup line. Maybe it would be easier if us parents could have color coded name tags to identify us easily to one another…blue is good for small talk, purple will do small talk and random social events, those with orange…those like Willo, they are good for the deep stuff…if you are really interested in making deep friendships talk to her. Otherwise, it’s probably best to just ask the next person what’s on the agenda for the first PTA meeting.