For the past two weeks, my kids have had swimming lessons four days a week at the local pool.
I have been amazed each day to watch my 4-year-old daughter in action. Oh, she’s good at swimming. But I’m more impressed by my little social butterfly’s ability to make friends.
When it’s time to get in the pool, she scans the area for another girl who seems to be within two years of her age or two feet of her size. She approaches the girl and asks her if she would like to learn how to “dive” in the pool like she does. Or maybe the girl would like to learn how to do an underwater somersault. Perhaps they could toss rings under water and swim down to reach them, she suggests.
After about 15 minutes, my daughter reports back to me that she has made a new friend and she lets me know the girl’s name. Another 15 minutes pass, and she comes over to let me know the new girl has invited her to her birthday party. Or maybe we could schedule a playdate.
I’ve noticed that my daughter always finds out the child’s name and then shouts greetings to her from wherever we are in the pool. “Hi, Abby!”, “Hello, Olivia!”, “See you later, Emma!”
After two weeks of watching my daughter meet new friends, the boys and I have started to feel like she is the princess sitting on top of a parade float while we are the people who walk alongside. She smiles and waves and calls out to her adoring fans as we make our way through the different parts of the aquatic park. She seems to have met half of the girls her age.
Watching my daughter has really made me think about how I interact with people in these settings.
I love to hang out with friends at the pool, and I can chat all day with someone I know. But on days when we haven’t arranged to meet friends, I usually sit quietly by myself. I hide behind a book or just sit in the water.
Why don’t I ever strike up a conversation with another mom I don’t know? This week, I decided to give it a try. I have been scanning the pool for someone who looks like she might like to talk to a complete stranger. But then I start prejudging.
“She looks so perfect,” I think. “She’ll think I’m weird.”
“She looks like she has a million friends.”
“I don’t think she would want to talk to me.”
I have gathered up my nerve a few times to ask a question. “How old is your daughter?” Or, “Is this your sand bucket?” But then the conversation seems to end. I give up and decide it’s easier to be quiet and read a book.
Well, I had composed this post in my mind a few days ago, and I was going to end it here. I was planning to finish with a funny line about how I hope I can be just like my 4-year-old when I grow up.
But I have been trying the past two weeks to strike up a conversation with another mom from my daughter’s swimming class. This little girl has become one of my daughter’s many new “best friends” from our pool time.
We always say our “hellos”, but she usually is busy with her younger son. She just didn’t seem like she really wanted to chat.
All week, I have had this nagging feeling that I should talk to her. “I BET you have more in common than you would ever guess!” this little voice kept telling me.
Today, the other mom asked me if my two boys, who are 8 and 6, are twins.
“No,” I laughed. “But a lot of people do ask me that.”
We started talking about our daughters. Then about schools in the area. Our conversation turned to talk of private school and Christian school and home schooling. She even attended the same home schooling conference I did a few weeks ago!
We couldn’t believe how much we had in common as we talked furiously throughout the 35-minute class.
We even got into a discussion about churches, and I found out that she really wants to attend church, but hasn’t found a good fit for her family. So, I invited her to stop by our church. And she said she WOULD! She actually seemed super excited.
Well, I wanted to ask her to be my best friend… And invite her to dinner… And maybe a movie… And then maybe her whole family could come for dinner… And who knows, maybe we could go camping together… And, and, and… maybe she could even come to my next birthday party… =]
But I decided I better not skip too far ahead with the first new friend I’ve made at the pool this summer.
I’m definitely not on par with my 4-year-old just yet. But I’m glad I listened to that small nagging voice and stepped outside of my comfort zone today.
How about you? Do you find it easy to meet new people? Or would you rather dive into a book than a conversation?