sometimes, i feel like i need to get a grip. i'm that lady..the one who talks to you in the grocery line. or the one who compliments your outfit or hair when we pass each other on the sidewalk. the one who waves at your daughter as she goes down the slide..or honks at the kids on the side of the road , while they work their lemonade stand. BUT in this day and age of stalkers, identity thieves and pedophiles..not everyone is open to someone who is friendly and chatty..it can sometimes come across as creepy, i guess. so i have toned it down a bit over time...giving instead my closed lip smile..keeping my lips shut so that i don't give them the willies.
BUT...( and as pee wee herman once said, "it's a pretty big butt.") sometimes i cant help myself. we have been taking swim lessons at the ymca for a year or so now..and river is in the littlest kid class..three's and four's with not a lot of water experience..not a lot of experience outside of the security of mom and dad. when river first started, he was nervous and asked me to sit against the wall by the pool so he'd feel better about it...quietly encouraging him or a little pat on the back or a little woo-hoo! and while i am there..i can't help myself and pipe up to encourage other people's kids as well.
so, this time around, river has just jumped right in...he loves the pool and likes his teacher..and he has a little buddy in class. a tiny little guy...who from the get go has been terrified. clutching to the wall. head down. eyes clenched. refusing to even just be held by the teacher in the water. besides the fact that this is very hard to watch and you feel for the little guy (we all have to face our fears, but at three..is just seems so sad.) --but it has also stirred up a bit of insecurity for our little buddy. so a few weeks ago, i went back to my little perch, quiet against the wall. speaking only if needed.. encouraging BOTH of them. "you're doing great." " look at your muscles while you hold on!" "what a big boy!" "your mommy is riiight there, do you see her?" high fives and pats on the back...what i was doing for my own son, naturally just came out of me for this little one. he wasn't a project..i didn't have a goal. i was just trying to reassure him that he would be okay.. that someone acknowleged his distress and was willing to be with him in it. that's it. sooooo, weeks pass by.. and yesterday, we go to lessons again. the boys do their thing on the edge of the pool and river slides in the water and holds on to the side and his little friend follows. eventually, he hold on with one hand...then reaches for the teacher. GASP!! EEEEEEK! AAAAAAAARRRRGGHHHH! OOOOH MYYYYYYYY!!!! and with out thinking, i threw my arms up and squeeeeeezed his mother with all my might. now,lets stop and slow this down. i squeezed his mother..his mother, a tiny Indian woman who is reserved...his mother who is a physician..his mother, who shook my hand when we parted the last time we saw each other. i squeezed the dickens out of her and squealed. then in a second i realized what i had done and i pulled back and said " i'm so sorry. i forget about personal space. i was just excited and i'm sorry." i may have even blushed.
and then she said this: "are you kidding? you are the reason we still come."
gulp. it sunk in for a second and i said thanks and we went back to focusing on our kids. but her reply stayed with me the whole way home and into the evening. my heart was full. the idea that what what felt to me, like average encouragement..what felt like "just being nice"..was the reason they come back ..that was overwhelming to me.
now, i am not unrealistic. i know that small tiny acts of kindness..or just being friendly..is not going to save the world or capture hearts everywhere.. i know that. but, so often i stifle myself as to not to overstep, offend or freak people out....but, what a waste. this whole encounter at the Y reminds me that i should be who i am. stop doubting myself.relax in who i am created to be, and reach out to others in average, regular ways. in writing all of this down, i guess i am wanting to encourage you to do the same.. we never know what our little kindness can mean to someone else.
so, be nice.