Yesterday I was eavesdropping chatting on Twitter and I saw that my friend michaelsownmom was talking about how her little boy waved and shouted a greeting at a woman who was walking down the street, but the woman didn’t respond. And understandably, that bruised his feelings just a little.
I replied to her that my six-year-old does the same thing – if someone is walking down the sidewalk in front or behind the house, he’ll stop what he is doing and holler Hi There! and wave with his hand high in the air, sometimes until they are clear out of sight. I added that I really have to fight the urge to stifle him, but really, why?
MichaelsDaddy chimed in that he sometimes feels like he needs to protect him from the rejection of those who won’t respond in kind.
I think every parent can relate to that, the overwhelming urge to protect our babies from the hurts and rejections of the world.
If I am to be honest though, I think one reason I want to temper Sean’s enthusiasm in shouting greetings to all who pass is because, for reasons unbeknownst to me, it’s a little embarrassing. We tend to not do that kind of thing much these days and our world is probably a little darker for it.
But like MichaelsDaddy, also known as Tom, I too want to protect my baby from those who won’t acknowledge him or respond in kind.
But the cold reality of life on this planet is that there will always be a steady stream of rejection to be had. So, from a practical standpoint, why not start practicing now? Why not get used to rejection from complete strangers so that way when he grows up and is on Twitter and gets notice of 14 unfollowers, it won’t hurt his feelings. As much.
But immeasurably beyond that, to stifle him would be to counter the exact thing I’m trying to teach him – always reach out, always extend kindness to others, even when it is not acknowledged or returned.