Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friends we haven't met?

I'm trying something new...more frequent, shorter, and less edited posts.

B, who was establishing himself as so so very shy suddenly pulled a 180 on us. Now he's downright gregarious. Not just talking constantly to us, which he's always done, but obsessed with meeting new people. Everyone, from the 1 year old at the playground to the guy delivering our pizza gets "What's YOUR name? My name is B!" Its so fun to watch, though sometimes (for us introverts) a bit uncomfortable. Not every sullen old guy on the bus wants to talk to him, nor do people who are briskly walking by want to say "HI!!!!"

Last weekend we went to a nearby small park. There were two families with a few kids apiece there together already. Four of the kids were older than B, 4-5 years old. B was playing happily in the play structure when one kid yelled "Hey D, lets play hide and seek". Well never mind that we had never seen or talked to these kids, B heard "D" as "B" and his eyes lit up. Mommy I'm going to play hide and seek. I thought he meant with us---he loves when I crouch behind the slide and he "finds" me and gets a big hug. But no, he wanted to play with the older kids!

They ran to the other end of the yard and B trailed behind yelling "Where are we going!" repeatedly. Finally one of the kids turned to him and said "NOT YOU! We don't know you!"

Ugh. G and I looked at each other and cringed. My heart just about broke for my friendly yet sensitive little guy as all the exclusions of my past (and present) rushed back to me.

What do we do?  Tell him not to talk to strangers or to play only with the kids we know? Remind him that not everyone is a "friend" despite that our words over the years have led him to believe that "friend" simply means "child close to his age"? Explain about nice people and not-so-nice-people?

Well, he's only 2. He didn't even notice what they said, and he ran around with them for a few minutes and came back to play with us. We didn't have to say a thing. For now.


  1. I remember that my son was like this, but it all changed again at the age of three, when he hit a different level of social awareness and became a bit shyer, though still gregarious.

    I never said anything to him about strange kids not wanting to play with him, but I would keep an eye on him as he played and if he was interfering with their game, or they expressly said they didn't want him, I'd pull him out and explain to him that this was their game and he wasn't ready for it yet.

    But the vast majority of the time, I didn't have to. The bigger children just paid no attention to him or incorporated him. And then, as I said, he grew older and more self-conscious, and it's rarely an issue now.

  2. oh! What a sad moment! I'm sure he'll rebound and be friendly again. But you're right ... it's a strange conversation to have ...

  3. OUCH! My heart broke a little. It's one of the things I dread--seeing other kids be mean to mine. Shudder! Shudder!

  4. Oh, man. That kind of thing just kills me. A similar thing happened to W a few months ago and it made me want to cry, right there at the playground. I didn't, mostly because like B, my kid didn't really understand what the bigger kids were saying, but this is going to be so hard when they care what other kids say to and about them. I'm totally dreading it.

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