Boise Parents: What Do You Do In This Super Awkward Encounter?
Being a parent is one of the most mysterious roles a person will ever take on in their life. There's no instruction manual, there's no guide on how to navigate your human through the web of life. You simply figure it out.
As a parent, you often don't think about the lessons you'll need or the lessons that you learn until you reflect on them later. This brings us to the situation I've been encountering in Boise parks with my 4-year-old for the last few weeks. It's a predicament that is as old as time itself: making friends.
"But wait, you're an adult! You should know how to make friends by now!"
Of course! I should know how to make friends, but what happens when your small child becomes friends with another child that's close in age? It's not like the two children can just exchange cell phone numbers and text each other the next time that they want to meet up near the monkey bars. So, what's a parent to do?
The first time this question wandered through my head, my daughter befriended a little boy who we'll call "Max." Well, Max and my daughter started talking as they were running around on the playground and began playing. They had such a blast pretending to be airplanes, running around with their arms spread, and even playing "superheroes" on the playground.
As time passed, it was eventually time to go. With my family and I only arriving in Boise this past winter, I knew I wanted my daughter to experience the joy she was having with her new friend sometime again soon. They were even referring to each other as "best friends."
After letting the two play for a few more minutes, the boy approached his mother and my daughter followed. I was immediately trying to think of ways to exchange info with this woman without coming off... you know, creepy. I mean, perhaps I'm overthinking it but in this day and age, I feel you never know people's true intentions even in a park setting.
In an awkward attempt to "break the ice", I hand this woman my business card. I didn't know what else to do!
She looks down at it then looks back at me as I sheepishly tell her how my daughter appears to be... obsessed?... With her son? Like I said... it was awkward.
"Yeah, so my daughter would love to play with Max again," I said to the mom as I looked around for my fiancee who was roping in our 1-year-old. She seemed cool about everything but I didn't get a "real" response.
If I asked for her number in order to coordinate a playdate, would that have come off too strong? Would that have come off creepy?
So, what happens next?
As our kiddos said their goodbyes, tears began to fill my daughter's eyes as she didn't want to say goodbye to her new best friend. I thought for sure that the child's mom would've seen that and would've texted me to let me know that our kids could meet up again sometime; surely that would happen, right?
I never heard from her again and while that's alright, as a parent I feel like I let my daughter down. What could I have done differently to secure a playdate with this boy? The parents looked nice and by all accounts, seemed very approachable. Should I have been more assertive? Should I have been more clear in wanting to arrange a playdate? Better yet - is this a situation I couldn't have changed?
I'm curious as to what you believe. If your significant other is next to you and either of you has a child, ask them: how would you handle being asked for your number by a stranger because your kids got along? Would it bother you? Would it not?
Since this happened, my daughter has made friends and of course, still brings up "that day's best friend" now and then. She seems to miss him but again, she's only four years old so she is still grasping what all of those emotions mean.
Hopefully, as a dad, I can figure out how to make sure that when she makes a friend, she can see them again.