As I watch him, I remember that I used to have that power.
When I was small, a power to just walk up and make a new friend instantly.
He does it over and over to the kids in our neighborhood, and every time he hits the target. Older kids hand him the ball. Younger kids trade bikes. Little girls let him ooh and aah over their dolls or admire the way he recognized Ariel on their shirt.
He has that fearlessness in play, too. Sliding down a slide headfirst is becoming an old thrill. He loves being thrown around by his daddy bouncing next to him on that air mattress which now has a leak and has a new passion for riding his bike backwards.
But the fearlessness in trying, his passion for being social pushes me a little too.
Not exactly the uplifting I had after BlogHer 2011, but little spurts when I need it most.
Like when I’m approaching those parents looking for a playmate for him. Yes, I am still looking for a friend for him among our neighborhood filled with children. (He’s found several he likes but the mothers ignore me. Just like they don’t care about getting our damaged playground redone and that is why I as a new resident took the project single handedly. That is a story I need to tell very soon.)
I have been struggling with my self-esteem lately. My failures scream for attention while my successes just sit there, quietly, waiting for me to notice.
SoCal Lady Bloggers has 176 members from the last time I looked. Amazing, since I can think of more ladies who have not joined our ranks.
It’s easier for me to get to know someone when you’re not face-to-face. I’ve made friends through blogging that help fill the holes in my life where distance has taken its toll. I am blessed by it. I needed it. (Secret is out- I have a hard time looking people in the eyes. I can be that shy.)
Just as it is easy to admire people’s work and not know the story of the hard work behind it. Several bloggers who started the same time as me are far, far more popular. We were all on the same message boards at the same time, so even though my growth was slow and twisted, I still feel a little connection.
However, it’s the same kind of connection that still left me alone on a Saturday night in high school. The kind I saw and no one else did.
The same kind of connection that made me cry seeing every neighbor I tried to be friends with, was recommended to, was friendly with hanging out together Memorial Day weekend.
There are times I am envious of someone’s opportunities. I am jealous of someone who got the job I wanted. Even though when I saw who I know they picked the right person, the better one at it than I am right now.
I am jealous of those friendships on my street, curated for years and seemingly impenetrable.
Last weekend I called it quits for a a few people. The ones that I chased down, the ones who ‘just happened’ to be out when I took my son for a walk around the neighborhood.
I don’t know what was crueler- the mom walking out and not even acknowledging me or having to carry my son away when it got dark, while the kids tried to comfort him and invite him to the birthday party that weekend.
Yet he will try again and again. Maybe it’s because he isn’t rejected like I am. He doesn’t feel it in the pit of his stomach, the nervousness and fear every time I try to talk to a stranger even as I smile and repeat ‘eye contact’ in my mind.
I will still give him those opportunities. It’s not the potential friends who don’t like him, but the parents who, I guess, don’t like me. Even if it is only a playmate for ten minutes, I know he is still happier then before.
I don’t want him to end up like me- working for months on a project no one else cares about yet will benefit from, afraid when it is done people will rip it apart for still not being good enough, my hard work ignored except for my son who will have a safer place to play.
I want him to keep up his fearlessness.
I want to learn how to have it again.