Saturday, May 16, 2015

Silence, solitude, and togetherness

I watch her navigating the park, gravitating toward another little girl and making new friends so effortlessly. She's so different from me in this regard and so much more like her dad.

"How old are you?" she asks the little blonde girl as they begin swinging side-by-side on the big-kid swings.

"I'm five."

"Oh, I'm only four-and-a-half. And I have a brother who's still zero."

"Hey, there's my dad! He's 71. Wait, no. My Papa is 71. My dad is 45, and my mom is 44.

"My Nonna is 78, but she died already."

"My Uncle Pete is 92, I think."

"He must be really tall!"

"Want to build a rock cake in the sand with me?"


Later, a woman comes by -- her grandmother, maybe -- and tells the little blonde girl that they'll be leaving soon.

I smile politely at the woman, but I have no desire to begin a conversation. It's not that I'm being anti-social, per se, but I just don't feel like talking.

Again, this is where my daughter and I differ. She seeks people out and makes a point of acquiring new friends. And she talks non-stop.

I think back to my childhood. Was I like this, too, at that age? When did I stop being so carefree?

It was probably in my pre-teens, when the world became harsher and more judgmental.

But to my daughter, the world isn't like that. It's just a place full of new friends that she hasn't yet met.

I try to justify my behaviour by acknowledging that I already have plenty of worthwhile friends, and I'm okay with not seeking out new people to talk to each day.

I feel like I'm in constant communication with dozens of people everyday anyway -- whether they be friends, family, business associates, or the parents of my daughter's friends -- and I sometimes just want to shut the world out and enjoy some quiet time alone.

And so I don't strike up a conversation with the little blonde girl's grandmother.

Instead, I just stand back, enjoying the late-afternoon breeze, and watch my daughter innocently play in the park.

The little blonde girl's dad comes toward us. "Lauren, it's time to go!"

"I have to go now," the little blonde girl -- Lauren -- turns to face my daughter. "See you later!"

"Okay, bye!"

And she walks away, my daughter's newest friend, toward her family.

"Can we come back here tomorrow, Mama? I want to see her again."

We begin the walk home ourselves, passing another dad who has just arrived, pulling two kids in a wagon.

"Are you going to be at the park for very long?" my daughter approaches the man.

"Yeah, we'll be here for a little while."

"Here, then you can play with this!"

My daughter hands one of his children a toy shovel that she'd found in the sand and was using to make her rock cakes.

"Oh, thank you!"

And, with that, another new friend is made. So effortlessly.

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