Lessons from a 5 year old

My son has an interesting way of making friends. If there is a group of kids he doesn’t know, he will walk up to them and stand there until he is noticed. Sometimes when it’s a group of kids much older than him, he will never be noticed. When that happens, he moves onto another group or another kid. I’ve seen him go up to a group of middle school boys throwing a football and literally stand in between them until one of them throws him the ball. Sometimes this kind of thing makes me cringe; I can literally see him setting himself up for rejection. I want to go and tell him to find some kids his own age, or tell him to go and find some kids he knows. The other day he saddled himself up to some older boys in the pool and I swam over to him and asked him what he was doing. He told me, “I’m giving them a chance to know me.”  His 8 year old sister asked him why.  He looked at her as if she was stupid and told her “because I would want to know me.” 

I was absolutely astonished by a) his complete and utter lack of humility fear and self consciousness and b) his easy acceptance that he is worth knowing.  I asked him if it made him feel bad when some kids didn’t want to know him.

“No,” he said simply.  And he swam away.

How many times have I, as a introvert, not given people a chance to know me?  How many times have others given me the opportunity to know them, and I just didn’t pay attention?  How many Jacobs have passed through my life that I’ve ignored?

I don’t know how many times I’ve gone somewhere and felt unwelcome and complained and never went back. But maybe the reason I never went back had less to do with them making me feel unwelcome and more to do with my fear of rejection. Not everyone will notice you the first time.  Maybe I should have given those people another chance to know me because I’m worth knowing. And maybe they were worth knowing, too.



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