Today we crossed paths with a diversity of different people. Two women enjoying a stroll & conversation, a young lady walking her dog, an old man appreciating the view, some kids on the playground… Just to name a few.
As we were about to cross paths with the two women, they were stopped in their tracks by my toddler who was searching for “treasure” on the ground rather than watching where he was walking. Thankfully they patiently did the guess-hustle before resorting to parting ways so he could continue on his way & when he turned to acknowledge them, they politely said, “hello!”, as did he.
As we were walking away I began to think about that exchange along with the many others we had already had during our short time at the beach… I told my friend that I’d been talking to my toddler about how he shouldn’t talk to strangers when he isn’t with mumma or daddy but that I don’t want him to stop talking to strangers when he is with us. My friend with an almost surprising tone said something like, “yeah you just walked right up to that man to start a conversation!”
I smiled as I thought to myself about how we continuously attract such sweet & kind people just about everywhere we go & thanks to the innocence of a 2 year old, I’m finding him & myself lost in conversation with these lovely people whom we’ve never met before…
We very well could have been the only interaction the old man on the log had all day. What a shame it would’ve been if we hadn’t taken the time to say hello? See, I was raised to not live in fear. There was no waiting in the car with the other parent while my mom ran into a gas station to ask for directions or someone waiting at home for us when she hadn’t gotten off work yet. There wasn’t another bread winner to foot the bill for the hotel reservations gone wrong which ended in us sleeping in our car somewhere around 93rd St. in NYC (not that it was really about the money because no one should pay that much for one night in a room). So maybe it had something to do with her “I can do it all” single mom, badass attitude? Either way, thanks for teaching to me to trust wholly in my gut Ma & for believing me when I spoke up!
My point is, my mum trusted her gut & as far as I could see, it didn’t steer her wrong. I distinctly remember her taking a research trip to Cuba when I was in 5th grade & her telling me she was “no more afraid to walk down the streets of Havana at night than she was at home.” She encouraged me to share a meal with a homeless man on a city bench as a child & even gave me the guts to ask for help when I found myself broken down on a 1500 mile road trip home at 18, when all I really wanted to do was cry…
This is exactly the kind of mindset I want to teach my son – Trust your gut & intuition rather than to live in fear…
The world is a better place when strangers say hello. Let’s not rid our children of that gift. The gift of surprise & friendship. Of kindness & gratitude for having made someone’s day. A simple “hello” or exchange of smiles. Patting a friendly dog or just chit-chatting to pass the time. Sharing a bench with a breath taking view or a meal with someone running on an empty stomach.
Think not, that the people of the world are out to steer you wrong but instead give them a reason to smile back. The next time your auto-reaction wants to pull your child back under your wing & shush them for waving or saying “hi” to the man with a 5 O’clock shadow behind you, think twice. Dig deep down into the gut of your heart – Do YOU have a reason to feel afraid or unsafe? Should YOU be making your children feel that way? Just consider how harmless a little friendly conversation between some happy humans can be… How you’re doing your part to raise little people that will, ARE already making this world a better place with their innocent smiles, waves & “have a great days!”
We were all just humans until classification, disconnection & divide. If our children don’t bridge the gaps, who will?
As Ruthie Lindsey would say, “If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.”