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  • Shouted Greetings

    January 6, 2010

    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.

    28 Comments »

    1. happy geek says:

      It’s funny. I have two VERY VERY chatty little men and they greet everyone. They do not seem to notice those that ignore their greeting, they are too busy looking ofr their next victim, but htose that pay attention get a full report of my boy’s lives. It is then I feel the need to protect the random strangers from having to listen to my boys for hours on end:).

      January 6th, 2010 at 9:04 am

    2. Janine@Shelf Life says:

      I can’t believe that people ignore little kids. I can’t resist a tiny toothed smile and greeting.

      January 6th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    3. Kate says:

      You’re a good mommy for realizing you shouldn’t stop him. My daughter was the same exact way and we DID stop her. In fact, we stopped letting her go to the store with us because she always introduced herself to everyone and tried to carry on conversations with the grocery cashiers, most of whom had zero interest in talking to a four or five year old. I’m sure we made her feel bad about it, and guess what? She is now 13 and hasn’t been friendly or chatty like that for oh, about seven years or so….yeah, we really stifled her. :o( But like you, we wanted to protect her from the people who ignored her (or who half listened and ALWAYS got her name wrong) and like Happy Geek above, we also wanted to protect the cashier who really just wanted to do her job and get on to the next customer. And yes, it was embarrassing when the cashiers found it annoying, yet we puffed with pride when they found it endearing. Sadly, there were way more annoyed cashiers than charmed cashiers…

      Anyway, glad you knew the right thing from the start…just wish we had known, too.

      * * *
      I figure annoying the cashier is payback for putting the potatoes on top of my bread. It happened just this morning and I didn’t have my chatty little boyfriend with me. :- p

      January 6th, 2010 at 9:21 am

    4. Lucy says:

      When I was a mother, not that we ever quit being moms but you know what I mean, I remember thinking I would be so happy when my children were on their own with their own children so I wouldn’t have to ever worry about them again. Well, LOL! What a laugh. Grandchildren come and it’s the same old show over again. My 6 year old grand-daughter is, and has been since birth, so social and so joyful at meeting anybody. I (and her parents) have literally had to hold a hand over her mouth to keep her from giving out her name, phone number and address and all other pertinent information.

      So where is the line that keeps them from being ‘too’ friendly to strangers and still leaving them free to show simple friendliness to others. I have no idea. I just know now that the fear/worry never goes away. I wasn’t much help, was I. 🙂

      * * *
      Sean doesn’t so much want to talk to people in-depth (engage) and he’s definitely not inclined to go off with anyone — he just wants to shout hello and wave. If he does try to talk with a stranger he is likely to just tell a joke, starting with the punch line, which makes for some puzzled/apallled expressions.

      January 6th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    5. michele says:

      Or you could have my problem. When my daughter was 2, we were in the library and a very sweet old lady stopped and said to my daughter “Oh, what a cute little girl.” My daughter looked up at her, gritted her teeth, and said “Get outta my way”. It still remains my most embarrassing parenting moment.

      January 6th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    6. First Born at 40 says:

      I have noticed and commented to my friends on something similar. Until my son was four, he was an only child. We would go to the playground and he would eagerly engage other kids in conversation (we’re a family of talkers!) and ask them if they’d like to play, and the other kids for the most part would look at him like he was speaking an alien language. We may go too far with the “don’t speak to strangers” when we’ve frightened children of other children. But that was always my explanation to my son…that those children had been instructed not to speak to strangers and they didn’t realize it really wasn’t supposed to apply to other kids on the playground…that some people are just really good rule followers. He was happy with that and, at 6 1/2 is still just as friendly and welcoming to new faces. Hope he stays that way. I, of course, find him very charming.

      January 6th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    7. Stacey says:

      When my daughter was in preschool– she tried to go home with a lady with a shiney purse… My son gleefully tells almost everyone about his favorite video games or the book he is reading.
      I have learned to let some of the conversation go– but I do find myself telling the kids, that’s enough– we are moving on now. It is such a fine line between respecting our neighbors, and being wary of strangers. I try to follow my gut, if the interaction is just too cozy and I start feeling weird– then I find a way out– I think part of it is that I am uncomfortable with compliments or complaints from strangers– hummm…
      I think I need a therapist– instead of a comment form ? Thanks for listening!

      January 6th, 2010 at 11:17 am

    8. Shelly W. says:

      I kind of think my kids wish I’d stop saying hi to strangers. Those teenagers get embarrassed so easily. Geesh!

      Keep encouraging him, even if he’s rejected. Might prepare him for being a writer. 🙂

      January 6th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    9. michaelsownmom says:

      Very well said!
      At the start of the school year Michael had a huge learning curve. He needed to learn to raise his arm to be called on and not just blurt out a question/answer, etc… Sometimes when a stranger isn’t responding to him he just raises his hand like in class and waits for them to call on him. He is just too cute.

      * * *
      Oh that made me laugh – the image of him holding his hand up waiting for a stranger to notice! Indeed, too cute!

      January 6th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    10. tom says:

      I’m glad you posted on this; I’ve been thinking about your question a lot: “Really, why?” And I don’t have a really good answer. Instead, I wonder why it is we (as a society) work so hard to be unfriendly. I consider myself more guilty than most in that regard, but I think it comes from intractable shyness… which comes right back to the notion of trying to protect myself, and by extension, my son, from rejection.

      You’re absolutely right – rejection will come, and it’s not going to mortally wound. Better to let him press on; I can be there to help dust him off and set him right again when he gets knocked down.

      January 6th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    11. Melissa says:

      Jennifer at Gabby Gwenhwyfar shared about your blog in a blog post today. Loved your post today. I can relate. I have 5 younger children and 2 especially want to talk to everyone! This was a good reminder to me to just let them be themselves, friendly and kind.

      January 6th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    12. Kathy says:

      I think the moon must have been lined up with Mars or something yesterday, because my almost 4 yr old son had almost the exact same thing happen to him. We were going through a guarded entrance, and he said hello to the guard, and the guard ignored him. That broke my little guy’s heart. Fortunately, right after that, a very nice receptionist noticed that he was very sad and asked why? When told what had happened, she asked if she could give him a great big hug. She told him that her three boys (all in the military) were all very far away, and that she missed them, and if he wanted to say hi to anybody ever again, all he had to do was come see her because she doesn’t have any little boys at home to talk to right now. He wound up being glad that he made *her* feel better.

      January 6th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    13. Wendy P says:

      When my 9 month old grandson smiles at every person in the supermarket, most of them stop to ask about him and shake his little hand. Childrens openness and innocence only lasts so long. Before you know it they are insecure, irritable teenagers.

      It IS best to let him be who he is (under your supervision) because that is his wonderful nature.

      January 6th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    14. Theresa says:

      Our little granddaughter, Eva, started shouting “Hey” at people when she was about 6 months old. She shouts, and SHOUTS at them until they acknowledge her. She’s almost a year old now, she rarely gets ignored regardless of where she is. It is quite funny to watch people try to ignore her, but she refuses to allow them.

      January 6th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    15. momof8 says:

      You know, I think it’s a good thing to say hi. My older kids do ask me why I talk to everybody. I figure if I see the same grocery cashier or target cashier etc. week after week it’s a nice thing to say hi. Now it is like we are old friends and old friends tend to look out for you. (and not smash your bread!) I am treated very well by my cashier friends. Well, except for the one who asked if my two boys were my grandkids, that kinda hurt . . .

      January 6th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    16. Steffj89 says:

      My kids all three are people magnets. It is interesting for a mama who always felt overshadowed/overlooked to watch as people respond and crowd around them no matter where we are. I think its awesome that none of them realize yet that not everyone will be thier friend and I will continue to let them go where they go, and I will be here to pick up the pieces when it becomes necessary.
      Steff

      January 6th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    17. Kathy Vaughan says:

      Checked the two linked posts you have here, written back when I hadn’t yet discovered your blog. Such sensitive insights – reminds me again of why I smile every time I see you have a new post! Thanks for your beautiful observations on everyday life, especially as seen through life with your little boyfriend!

      January 7th, 2010 at 3:58 am

    18. Brigitte says:

      My daughter is outgoing and usually manages to charm everyone she sees (very unlike her mommy ;-). The first time she was out-and-out, blatantly rejected (not just ignored, which she can overlook), it took her months to get over it and back to her old self. My mommy-instincts want to travel back in time and punt that pruney old lady right off her seat!

      January 7th, 2010 at 5:38 am

    19. anonlurkermom says:

      when my fourth was little we would go to the health club in the mornings and play the “good morning” game. He would say good morning to everyone we passed and count the ones who responded. Some days were great, some not. Today, I still greet everyone I pass. It amazes me how many (most) people enter our building at work and don’t acknowledge the security guard with a hi or good morning. The bit of civility makes life more pleasant.

      January 7th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    20. Jennette Lovett says:

      I think that, in the world we live in today, some people are afraid that their actions will be misunderstood if they pay too much attention to children–especially men. The level of appropriate attention is subjective, so many people just choose not to participate. I don’t know how I’d explain that to my children, but it’s not an issue for our family.

      January 7th, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    21. Antique Mommy says:

      I do think there is a big distinction between engaging, paying attention, whathaveyou — and just saying hi. I hope we’ve not come to a point in our society where we can’t nod and smile and acknowlege another human being. That’s what I was talking about.

      January 7th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    22. Melissa says:

      I do love this blog. I do love that your sweet Sean is a bit older than my sweet boy, so I learn a lot here. Thank you.

      I’m praying that I’m as mindful of and encouraging to the spirit in our house as you are in yours.

      And I love the line from one of your links above: “if you have an arm, a lawn chair and a smile, you have a ministry.” It really is that simple. I may have to put it on my fridge. 🙂

      Thanks for lift!

      January 8th, 2010 at 1:00 am

    23. mug mommy says:

      My daughter loved greeting strangers even as a toddler and sometimes had a perplexed look on her face when they wouldn’t greet back. When she started going to a new school last year for first grade, she was Ms. Congeniality and befriended even older kids at the playground. However, I noticed she stopped greeting after a few months and found out that she felt stupid saying hi to people who don’t respond. It’s a good thing she is really irrepressible so she’s back to her usual self. A teacher said she might make it as council president someday, haha! 🙂 Happy New Year to you and your family!

      January 8th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    24. JoLyn says:

      I love it when little kids talk to me in the store and I always try to greet them back. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.

      January 11th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    25. Lori says:

      This makes me remember how I had to figure out a way to explain to our daughter why it was okay to reply with a nod or “hello” when a “stranger” spoke or smiled at us in passing. She knew she wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, and her literal mind didn’t see any difference.

      January 11th, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    26. Donna@WayMoreHomemade says:

      I have a different situation to throw your way. While I will engage young children being friendly when their parents are present and actively involved, I will not if the parents don’t seem to be paying attention. A little girl, one time, as we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant, came and just started to talk to me. As an adult who does not know who this child belongs to, it makes me uncomfortable in this day and age. I told her that she might want to consider that I was a stranger and asked her to please go find her mom (who appeared to be no where in sight). Am I a “bah humbug”? Maybe. Your thoughts?

      January 12th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    27. Lindie says:

      I smile at every child I see, as I heard how they get hurt if you don’t and if they talk to me, I always reply. It’s the Nana in me!

      January 16th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    28. Pam says:

      I love to read your sweet wisdom when I can
      32 years ago when the my daughter was 2
      we were driving down main street and stopped at a red light
      the car beside us had a dog sticking it’s head out the window
      Daddy said “woof woof” and the dog just stared back
      daughter said, “Don’t worry Daddy. He’s (the dog) is just bashful
      being a female she of course was worried about other people’s
      feelings (o:

      loved you talking in the car with your son about words for the
      grey weather.
      My pet peeve is that so many parents miss those moments because they are on the cell phone
      while the child sits in the back with no one to talk to
      or even worse.. a video playing

      January 19th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

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