As I stood in line at Chipotle (we’ll just pretend it was the first time I was there this week), I kept glancing back at my son. He was sitting quietly playing on his iPad as I waited in line with the rest of the town. About halfway through the line, I noticed he’d made a friend, which isn’t unlike him at all. He’s a good little friend-maker. In fact, he worries me because just about anyone can be his friend, including someone driving a panel van full of candy and puppies. But this one seemed ok; it was a little girl, not much older than him.
Since he’s the fifth in a long line of kiddos, he’s sort of earned the right to sit a few feet away and play while I watch him. If Kid Number One had tried that, I would have referenced various parenting handbooks and vehemently denied the parental appropriateness of giving permission to a) talk to a stranger, b) play a video game, or c) be farther than 5 feet from me in a public space. However, when you’re Number Five, those rules go by the wayside. (Sort of.)
Numbers Four and Five are from Guatemala, and I’ll openly confess they are a bit spoiled (Ok, a LOT spoiled, but in all fairness, they were really, really difficult to bring home, and we’re pretty darned fond of them) and slightly overprotected—except when I’m letting them talk to strangers in restaurants.
As I finally made it through the line and made my way to the little metal island to collect my plasticware, I heard my kiddo call out to me from across the room.
“Hey, mom,” he yelled with enthusiasm, “I found another Guatemalan!”
As if he’d found the last item on a scavenger hunt, he was pretty darned proud of himself, and not having another reaction that came to mind, I smiled and gave him a big thumbs-up. Everyone else who was in Chipotle also thought is was pretty entertaining, and he earned a few chuckles.
“Awesome!” I replied as I walked back to say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to his new friend.
So here’s my question: How did he KNOW that little girl was from Guatemala? I mean he HAD to have gone up to her and asked because they LOOK similar to each other…which brings me to an observation: Kids are pretty stinkin’ cool without all the filters we end up acquiring as adults!
I mean can you even imagine a grown-up walking up to another grown-up and saying something like, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you're tan...and I'm tan... You wouldn't by chance be from Guatemala, would you?" It just usually doesn't happen like that for us, and I sort of LOVE that kids can just be themselves and ask the questions that get them the information they need.
True, she could have been from anywhere, and it turned out to be a pretty nifty coincidence that she was also from Guatemala. But wouldn’t it be great if we could all just dive right in and start up conversations without worrying about all the filters we’ve set up as adults? Kids are pretty darn cool, if you ask me.
And in case anyone was wondering, my two boys are apparently not the only Guatemalans in our small town.