One of the aspects of parenthood I'm still not getting used to is all the awkward interactions I have with other adults when I'm out.
It's quite fascinating, really. Today I took The Boy out for a stroll down to Ribfest, an annual street party near our neighborhood celebrating the glorious world of ribs.
As we walked he got attention from mad crazy peeps because, well, The Boy is pretty cute. Reality is, though, babies and toddlers get attention in a way that could make some celebrities jealous. Today, The Boy was especially social and talkative, which drew some interaction with other adults. We were walking toward a light and he kept saying "mama, papa, mama, papa." Cute, right? A woman looked back and just said, "you are quite a talker, aren't you? That's great!" We all were waiting for the light to turn green, The Boy kept talking, and she kept looking back at him, smiling. We parted ways.
Then The Boy and I got to the square where there's an area for kids to run around, write with chalk on the brick, listen to musicians playing, and stare at the fountain. It's quite pleasant. There were three girls in the center of the square playing with each other while their moms sat on a bench nearby. The Boy decided it would be fun to join them. This is what kids do. They don't have any regard or concern for groups or privacy; they just interrupt each other and join. They only learn to be polite and then outride avoid from crotchety adults like me. The Boy was smaller than these girl so the moms would tell the girls in Spanish to watch out for the "niño." That was enough for me to look over. We just smiled at each other and I waved.
Finally, The Boy ran over to all the free newspaper stands and another boy came running up after him, followed by his parents. The Boy started pulling on doors and the other boy mimicked. I kept warning The Boy to watch out for the boy while his parents did they same with their son. We were all there for about 3-5 minutes, laughing from time to time at our boys playing with each other. Then The Boy ran off and that was that.
These were all to some degree, awkward. All of these people are most likely folk that I would just pass on the street without ever talking to. But now that The Boy draws attention in a number of ways or because he interacts with other children, there's this element where I'm talking to new people.
But we're never really talking to each other. If it's just The Boy getting attention, I'm listening to another adult talk to him and saying "thanks" from time to time. If The Boy is playing with another kid, I'm usually telling him to look out while the other parents are doing the same with their children. So I'm around them, but we're never really acknowledging each other's existence. Sometimes, rarely, names are exchanged, but not our names. No no. "What's her name?...That's a pretty name...Yeah, his name is...Okay, bye."
This is great on one level because I'm an extravert and like people. As a social butterfly, interactions like this can be energizing. Ugh, I feel like I have to write that.
More honestly it's all awkward because you come to realize quickly as a parent that most of your interactions with other adults in these kinds of situations is limited to the amount of time your child is interested. There's not a lot of time for introductions and conversation; these aren't settings for that. You are focused on making sure your child doesn't get bloody somehow or break a limb. Making friends is low on the priority list. And that's okay.
So our interaction is limited through weird smiles, gestures, and words with speak to our children. It's just all awkward.
If you're a parent, you get this and I trust you're nodding your head and smiling out of the corner of your mouth; if you're not, just laugh now and be prepared for the day when it comes. You're welcome.