Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Hulk and His Boy

Dear Diary,

I learned something from a child in a doctor's office waiting room.

A boy walked in with his father and sat down nearby.  IMG --inward mental groan!
I love kids, but I needed a break from little boys for the day.
(I work in a special ed preschool classroom. Need I say more?)

This boy was grasping an Incredible Hulk action figure, as well as a Batman and Robin duo.
He sat for a few minutes and watched as another boy about his age-- I would guess seven or eight-- entered the waiting room.  He perked up, walked over to this potential-to-be-a-new-friend stranger, and this is what I heard:

Hi, my name is Caleb, what is your name?


Hi Noah, will you be my friend and play with me?

     ~Sure! Mom, can I play with Caleb?

And they sat at the waiting room kid table and proceeded to orchestrate a Hulk-like pounding on poor Batman and Robin, chatting and sharing toys like they had known each other since at least kindergarten.

I smiled at this exchange and watched them in wonder.

Caleb made it look so easy: making friends.
And Noah's uncomplicated response -- no excuses or shyness or avoidance-- was such a surprise to me.
They played for about five minutes when Noah's mom called him to go.
But Caleb wasn't going to let him disappear out of his life so easily.
He skipped off with him, all the while bantering loudly,

Let's have a play date tomorrow!  
I'll give you my mom's number so you can call her and you can come to my house.  
It's ###-###-####.

Yes, he blurted his mom's phone number for all to hear.  It was awkwardly funny. And Noah's mom humored this stranger-now-turned-bff and thanked him for playing with her son.

I marveled at this exchange for multiple reasons.

First, I work with children whose interpersonal skills are nonexistent.  That these two boys could communicate their names and desires to each other in 20 seconds-- and then enjoy and share the toys together-- was jaw dropping considering what I see everyday in my work.

Second, I know that breaking the ice with a stranger is not easy for many people.
And here two children were living out the scenario with textbook precision.

Hi, my name is LJ.  Will you be my friend and play with me?

How many people do I encounter that are just waiting for an invitation like that?  For some folks like myself, it takes a bit of bravery to put themselves "out there" and ask a question like that.

Maybe I'm not a Caleb.
Maybe I'm more of a Noah, with an open heart, receptive to the call of others.

Yes! I'll play with you!  I'm so glad you asked, here's my number!

Is the world full of strangers, or potential playmates?
Caleb learned at a young age to ask this question, and he is having a ball finding out the answer.

Happy Summer!