Today Anjali and I had planned a playdate with one of her friends from school, since they were both off for Easter Monday. The playdate was unexpectedly cut short though, because her friend was having an off day…it happens. But we found ourselves completely free, with a whole afternoon in front of us, no plans, and nothing pressing to do. I wanted to take advantage of being out of the house, but it wasn’t nice enough outside to take a walk or go to the park (c’mon spring… get here!).
We decided to head to Chapters, the bookstore with the huge play/reading area for kids. We got a drink and then went to the play area. Anj likes to play with the train set they have there. A little boy was playing there when we got there and his Mom wanted to leave. He didn’t want to. She politely asked him to go, and it ended as it always does in a dragging, kicking and screaming match with the promise of treats if he would release his death grip on the magnetic train car. At that moment I thought: kids annoy me. That was a really wrong thing for me to think. I love my daughter and I love kids in general, and there’s lots of kids that don’t annoy me besides my daughter. It’s not a kid’s fault if their parents consistently reward them for bad behviour, or allow themselves to be controlled by a 3 year old (hint: if you’re in the double digits you should be smarter than a toddler). But now I’m being mean and off-point.
Anyway, I was thinking to myself why does it seem so rare for parents to put their foot down and teach their kids to be respectful (I know all kids have tantrums and bad days and don’t want to leave stores, and there are some with behaviour issues relating to other disorders, but this was a separate thought). I was thinking isn’t it one of the most important skills we can teach our kids, to be kind and respectful to other kids and people around them? And doesn’t that start with how they treat their parents or their own family? Screaming, yelling, kicking, hitting, slapping because you don’t get what you want is just not going to fly at school or anywhere else, so wouldn’t it be easier on everyone to teach that right from the start?
Anyway, as I was thinking this, another little boy had come to play at the train table and his Mom sat down beside me. I was zoned out in my own thoughts, but slowly started to realize that she was closely monitoring him to make sure he shared the trains and the space nicely with my daughter. He was a gorgeous little boy, he played very peacefully with the trains, and he seemed content with what was offered to him, and didn’t demand any more. I felt guilty then for thinking that other kids annoy me and that all parents suck. I struck up a conversation with his Mom, and we realized very quickly that we had a lot in common. It was one of those very strange conversations where you bond really quickly and end up revealing a whole bunch of stuff about your life that even people you’ve known for longer don’t know. It feels natural because the other person has gone through similar experiences and you’re both realizing this as you each reveal things bit by bit. We talked for quite a bit, and after our long chat, we read some books to our kids. Other parents and families drifted in and out, and I realized it was later than I thought. I also realized that I wanted to ask for her number, but didn’t know if that would be weird.
I don’t have a lot of friends in my town who are parents. I know that seems strange, but I’m fairly new to this town and when I arrived I was a single Mom and didn’t know anybody. Anjali and I went to Mommy and baby classes, but I often found it hard to relate to or bond with the people I met there. They wanted to talk about babies and kids, and I love talking about my daughter, but I have other interests too and I felt I wanted to relate to people on other levels than just “hey, we both have kids” or “hey, where did you get that stroller”. So, many of the friends I ended up making don’t have kids. That becomes difficult sometimes too though, because I want my daughter to have exposure to other kids and playdates we can both enjoy (my daughter tends to hang out a lot with adults – even with family stuff she is usually the only kid). Since she started school though, I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the parents of the friends she’s made there and she’s had a couple of playdates with one classmate.
When it came time for us to leave the bookstore, I said bye to the other Mom and she gave me a hug. That didn’t seem weird, but for some reason I still felt weird asking for her number, so I didn’t. I regret it now. It could have been another friend for me and one for Anjali too.
How do you ask someone you just met and want to be friends with for their number?
Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net (this could have been me on the phone with my new friend…if I wasn’t so uncool 🙂 )