Sunday, May 26, 2013

Learn How To Make Friends From an Elementary School Kid

Act #146: Let down your guard and make a real connection with someone.

I am on a week-long beach trip with 5 girlfriends and our 9 combined children.
Although I'm quite close with the moms, some of our children barely know each other. I was a bit worried about how comfortable my shy and introverted son might feel sharing a beach house with near-strangers. But you probably aren't surprised to hear that within 5 seconds of our arrival, all the kids were playing together...beautifully. Here's what these kids taught me about making authentic connections with others:

1. "I have a broken arm." These were the first words a little 7 year-old boy told my son within minutes of meeting him.

Lesson: Don't be afraid to reveal your vulnerabilities. We all have a few.

2. The same boy also had a Skylanders (non-parent translation: popular video game) t-shirt on, and instantly became the coolest person in the world to my own little 5-year old Skylander fanatic.

Lesson: Look for the things you have in common.

3. About a third of the kids were toddlers that came with what my son calls "baby toys" - colorful loud plastic interactive objects that usually talk (or sing) to you. I asked my son not to bring out his action figures or the iPad with the little ones, so he improvised I guess. At one point I looked over and he was sprawled out on the floor singing his alphabets (something he learned at least 4 years ago) with a two-year old.

Lesson: Celebrate the different places we are on our journeys.

4. The first night the kiddos all got together, they were already sharing their favorite ice-cream flavors, books they were reading, how much (or how little) they knew about dance, the best sand castle building beach toys, and of course, the best, kid-tested iPad apps.

Lesson: Be authentic.

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