My son, in case you haven’t been able to tell from the tone of my writing, is a very outgoing little boy. He loves meeting new people and sharing every detail of his life with the ones that he knows. Training him to be cautious of strangers has proved a daunting task. He loves people and he loves life.
On Thursdays, my son spends the day at the YMCA for homeschool day. He and a dozen or so other kids climb rock walls, practice gymnastics and various other activities. The day ends with open gymnastics in which the kids enjoy some unstructured time. One Thursday, I was picking Jonah up and sat down on the benches to watch him for the last 15 minutes. As I watched, I noticed that he followed this one little boy around fairly constantly. Sometimes I would see them talking as they walked and sometimes Jonah would just be tagging along behind. When I asked Jonah about it later, he told me, “Oh, yeah Mom. I’m his buddy so I follow him wherever he goes.”
So we talked about it some more and discussed how it’s important to be friends with other kids as well (which he always is) and other issues of learning social skills…because Jonah has such a soft heart, I didn’t want him to be hurt if this kid didn’t respond likewise.
But as I thought abut the situation later, what struck me was the way Jonah worded himself.
“…I’m his buddy…”
Jonah decided, on his own, that he was going to be this kid’s buddy. No strings attached. No expectations of the other kid being his buddy back. Jonah’s idea of friendship is so open and honest. So selfless. So unmanipulative.
And then I thought, wow. Maybe I should stop worrying about him being hurt and just take a lesson from his example.