Something is maybe wrong with me, but it’s kind of nice when I get mistaken for a woman. The first time it happened, the happy-happy glow didn’t fade for a week (despite the fact that in that case I’d mistaken myself for a woman).
Today at the playground, a newfound friend was feeling a little standoffish with me. She’s just Boobaby’s age and they seem compatible. We’ve seen them a handful of times, but this poor girl K— still didn’t want to get any closer to the goofy guy in the red hat. (And who can blame her, really.) Her mom reassured me that K— was frequently a little timid around men, so it wasn’t just me.
Well, I know a challenge when I see one, so I went into full-on “show the kid you’re safe” mode. It’s something I learned to do when I was teaching new groups of kids every week, and it combines being approachable with staying low to the ground. You read the kid’s energy level and try to match it; interact with the other kids in a way that invites group play. Stay casual and don’t push.
Even with all that in mind, my success isn’t guaranteed. Some kids are just naturally reserved, and I respect that. But today, after swinging on the saucer with Boo, then rolling down hills, then playing soccer, K— (with her mom’s encouragement) finally decided to join in with us and another girl for a round of professional-level Ring Around the Rosy. Then (and this made me so proud) this little girl who’s shy around men held my hand as we walked back to the benches with her mom.
So a kid decided I was a good person today, and kids (in my experience) are the world’s best judges of character. The shiteating grin has returned to my face, not to be wiped off until the next time I get disinvited somewhere.