Kenna and I have taken up residence at the pool this summer. On most occasions she is content spending her time with me or independently exploring her surroundings but, on occasion, she gets the itch to include other children in her world. Watching my child approach other children to join her in play is interesting for me as her mother. Being that Kenna is mostly introverted, it falls outside of her hardwired self to initiate conversation with a stranger. Our experience this week went something like this: Kenna spots a girl (around her age) and her slightly older sister playing within a few feet of the space she had taken dominion over. Kids tend to have this brilliant ability to exist in their own world while completely surrounded by others. I envy this. They went on for some time right next to one another, never acknowledging the other’s existence. Kenna leaps out of the pool to confirm with me that it is okay to approach one of the girls with the intent to play together. I affirmed her petition and let her take it from there. I’m curious to see how this will play out so I merely exist as a spectator. As I’m watching her, she’s stressed and her eyes dart back and forth from me to the other child. She’s scared but she’s performing. I love it. For a brief moment (it felt like 19 years to me), the other child isn’t acknowledging Kenna. Kenna has already spoken a handful of words without acknowledgement. At this point I am flat-out anxious. Am I going to have to watch my baby get rejected? My adult self knows the pain and agony of that disappointment, I didn’t want this for her! Finally! The other girl acknowledges Kenna with a smile and acceptance. I’m relived. I’m excited! Whew, we made it through. Excellent job, baby G. I’m so proud of her courage and follow through and at this point, I’m checking myself because of my anxiety surrounding this social interaction. What is wrong with me? I laugh to myself because people and life experience has happened and I’m going there in my mind while I watch my sweet little five-year old interact with another harmless child.
My greatest hope for my daughter is that she grows and exists with the deep understanding of security and bravery and self-reliance. My hope is that she has the self-confidence to be an independent thinker and that with that she has the valor and endurance to stand up for her thought processes. I hope that she explores ways to be creative and blazes a trail that others can step onto. I concern myself none with what path she chooses in her life as long as she has those things fastened to the very core of her soul.
After quite a messy start to this year I was responsible for cleaning up a mental and emotional mess for both Kenna and myself. I began to work towards stripping away and rebuilding my own self confidence, emotions (still unfinished) and sanity (really unfinished *wink*) and that has, at times, felt impossible to do while simultaneously developing and protecting all those thing I wish for Kenna’s emotional security and mental development.
Back to our social experience at the pool, I know how stressful it can be for adult men or women to act on and perform based on a compulsion to approach another human being whether the intent be for friendship or romance, it can be a both terrifying and intimidating act.
If Kenna hadn’t acted on her desire to approach the child she would have been fine. It wouldn’t have changed her state of normalcy at all. She may have experienced some regret from not obeying the urge to move but she ultimately would have moved on being just… fine. From my experience, I’ve let many opportunities pass me by when I didn’t say what I wanted to say or express endearment to someone who had affected me. What it comes down to is, are we good with just accepting fine and never taking chances or can we embrace those urges and take a leap towards a small act that, in more cases than not, breeds unity, FUN and adventure?
Once Kenna boldly decided to act on her impulse to have a friend join her she started playing stronger and faster. Braver. The things she was timid towards only moments ago became alive, more than just a thought, and these things didn’t just become alive, they became conquerable with friends. She jumped further out. Held her breath longer. Dove deeper and laughed. Oh she laughed! People have that effect on us, don’t they? They have the potential to help us do more than we could ever do on our own. When loved well and surrounded by good people, we become so much more than our isolated selves.
People are the neatest.