I don’t know how it happened. Our Daniel is so outgoing and personable – the complete opposite of his parents. I’m quite shy, withdrawn and quiet, while Daryle is… well let’s just say we’re not particularly sociable.
While I shrink at the thought of standing up in front of a crowd, he’s not at all intimidated. On stage at his school Christmas concert he yelled “There’s my Mom!” while pointing and waving, all the other children standing quietly in rows waiting for the cue to begin singing. So much for my disappearing into the anonymity of the crowd. As I sit down, my cheeks turning a brilliant shade of red, he calls out “Where’s my Mom? Where’d she go?” Yikes – right here kiddo, waving back as discretely as possible.
When we’re out and about, he easily strikes up conversation with anyone. Last fall, while travelling on the ferry between Langdale and Horseshoe Bay, he saw four men playing cards. Ooooo… cards. Irresistible. Over the back of our bench he watched their game intensely, and jumped at the opportunity when they invited him to join. “What’s your favourite colour, animal, number, letter…?” Pretty quickly he had all four men engaged in conversation while the cards were dealt and game rules discussed. As we left the ferry terminal, he waved goodbye to his new friends as they cycled up the hill on the road heading out of Horseshoe Bay. They waved back too, what good sports.
Expressing his feelings comes easily too. He loves almost everyone and will tell them so at the drop of a hat. One of the moms of a fellow Kindergarten classmate recently told me how he had publicly declared that he loved his teacher and was crushed when she said that we don’t love everybody, we like them. Apparently, a little controversy ensued: that evening her daughter asked “aren’t we supposed to love everyone? Why did the teacher say Daniel couldn’t love her?” The mother spoke to the teacher about how the children should be supported in expressing positive feelings and embracing kindness and goodwill, that she didn’t like her daughter coming home being upset about not being able to love others. Oh dear.
We occasionally visit an elderly lady in our neighbourhood. She absolutely adores children and Daniel quite happily basks in the attention; he gives her hugs and likes to sit and chat. Any possible barriers crumble: they speak different languages and have nothing in common, but they connect nonetheless. As her health is slipping, both physically and mentally, we’ll treasure their friendship while we can.
He seems to naturally feel for others, trying to help and comfort them when he sees that they’re upset. Restaurant meals are often fraught when a little one nearby starts to cry. He just wants to rush over and give them a hug. Awww. We explain that the child is okay; their parents are taking good care of them, they’re just hungry, tired or bored. I cherish his open-hearted empathy.
With encouragement and support, he’s well on his way to becoming a well-adjusted cheerful adult. I hope his outgoing personality opens doors and presents opportunities that I’ve never even dreamed of. One thing I am sure of is this: he’ll drag his poor socially inept parents along with him, kicking and screaming, yet all the while bursting with pride.