Introduced by Amy
When my older sister, Sherie, was in high school, she had a really cool group of friends, whom I idolized. I longed to be cool like them, wearing makeup, staying out after 9:30, and having parties...they even hung out WITH BOYS! *gasp!* Whenever these friends came over for a movie night with my sister, they let me hang out too; I happily pretended to be one of them. (Gosh, I can't believe how patient they were...I was probably so obnoxious--I NEVER stopped talking.) Lalove was one of these super cool older girls.
Now we are both mommas. The weird thing is, if I moved into her neighborhood today, we'd meet and be friends! The difference between a 10 year-old and a 15 year-old is HUGE...but 5 years isn't such a stretch when your grown-ups! I'm so glad she agreed to contribute a post--she is so warm and funny...and a fabulous writer.
My son William is three years old, an age where in his mind, the world is his own.
He fully expects that every person we meet is ready and willing to be his friend and is interested in what he has to say. The other day as I was wheeling him around Home Depot, in one of those shopping carts made to look like a kid’s car and that have the maneuverability of a small cruise ship barreling down the aisles, you would have thought my son was in a parade. He was shouting to the people we passed, calling hello and waving wildly to strangers, as if he believed they should be thrilled to see him. He was especially excited when we saw kids close to his age. Whenever a small child came into sight, he’d cry out, “My friend!” and beg me to steer the cart over so he could chat with his “friends.” Most people who saw my son waving and calling to them were kind enough to smile and wave back, and as I watched total strangers strike up a fleeting moment of friendship with my son, it got me thinking. I think most young children, born into homes where they feel safe and secure, develop a natural sense of love and concern for others around them. For many children my son’s age, anyone can be their friend, regardless of age, gender, social status, etc. While children can definitely be mischievous and troublemaking, there is a reason the Savoir said we should become like little children, and I believe part of that reason is their amazing capacity to love others.
Yet somewhere along the journey to adulthood, the attitude of loving everyone shifts. Somewhere along the way, most children learn that it’s not OK to talk to strangers in Home Depot and not everyone is their friend. Obviously for safety reasons, we have to teach our children that not every stranger is going to be a friend to them, and they need to be careful about who they try to associate with. Yet watching my son making friends with each person he came in contact with made me wonder if we sometimes swing too far to the other extreme – to where we become self absorbed, judgmental, afraid of rejection, and unwilling to go out of our way to be friends to others.
Case in point, I spoke to a friend of mine the other day who recently moved to a new state and was commenting on how hard it was for her to make friends, even though she was going out of her way to meet people. As we spoke, I understood a little of what my friend was experiencing. I moved to a new city over a year ago and had a similar experience. What surprised both me and my friend is that we are both actively engaged in the churches we attend, and both of us had few people show any interest in meeting us when we attended church the first few weeks. While I wouldn’t expect strangers in Home Depot to go out of their way to be my friend, I would expect that anyone attending a new church would find many welcoming friends.
|Lalove with baby #2: Elinore|
Ever since my experience trying to make friends at church that year and half my husband was gone, I’ve tried harder to be aware of people around me. I try harder to sit by people sitting alone at church so we can strike up a conversation. I try harder when I’m in public to look for people who seem like they need help or a kind word. I’m still not as good as my son. There are still times in life when I let fear get the best of me, and instead of taking time to say hello or give a compliment to a stranger, I keep my mouth shut and miss opportunities to be a friend to others around me. I hope I can improve. Lucky for me I have a great example to look up to. He’s about three feet tall with big blue eyes and a big old smile. Some of you probably know him – you may have seen him waving to you as we lumbered down the aisles of Home Depot. His name is William, and he already knows what to call you – “friend.”
See what I mean? She's so cool. Don't you just wish she was your next door neighbor so you could talk over the fence and have family barbeques? I love her ideas about friendship. It's funny that kids think that grown-ups can do anything and that we're never scared....but when it comes to making friends, they are often SO much braver than us.
How about you? Have you an experience where someone reached out to you (or visa versa) that you'd share? What helps you to make friends? We'd love to hear from you. :)