I often find myself nowadays avoiding people. I wave less, forget to make eye contact and don’t make the effort to connect with others. I realize it, the world realizes this. But what concerns me the most, is my children realizing it. I always have to remind myself that they understand and absorb even the most unsaid things. How we behave with one another and how we think about those interactions.
As a mother, it’s been more than a challenge to have these discussions with my children of the strange nature in which we socialize in this world today. I cringe at my explanations. They aren’t good enough. The opportunities my children have to play with others and learn from their peers and teachers, certainly aren’t good enough. It’s frustrating and exhausting because I am constantly racking my brain to find the right words. They never come. Instead all my worries flood into my mind. Of how damaging it can be for a child to isolate themselves from their peers and the community. How the absence of back and forth exchange between people can impact their development long term. And how touch is one of the most foundational ways our children learn, and they can’t even do that. I worry they don’t see the expressions of empathy and kindness on their teacher’s face, but most importantly their peers’. Children learn from other children. But how do they do this now?
All I can do is remember to show my children the importance of interacting with others. I make it a point to bring my girls on errands so they can talk to people they don’t typically see. I schedule outdoor playdates with friends so they don’t forget who they are. So they don’t forget how to play with one another. I need them to remember the importance of kindness, even with the people they barely know. The other day, I was taking my girls through a particular drive thru that starts with the letter M (don’t judge, it was a LONG day). As I was pulling up to the window, my 4 year old asked me, “Mommy, what day is it?” I tell her. And as the window opens up, and the lady hands us our food, my daughter eagerly yells out, “Have a great Wednesday!” I look in the rearview mirror and she is beaming, smiling from ear to ear. Both the lady and I laugh out loud. We were surprised at my child’s behavior. We found it endearing that she was determined to make the effort to socialize and show kindness. It’s a small thing, but yet, it’s huge.
These are things I hope my children never forget. I pray they naturally think to reach out and use their words to connect with others. That they always crave those interactions as a way of learning and striving to be good. I hope my 2 year old continues to play peekaboo with my mailman through our window during every delivery. Constantly looking for a way to socialize, to bond with others, and encouraging us all to do the same. May we allow our children to teach and remind us, again, the importance of humanity.