Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making Friends is Easy (With a 3 Year Old)

This week I went out twice, which makes for a pretty social week for me.  First, on the 4th of July a bunch of us from work got together for a barbeque and fireworks.  I'm ashamed to say that Heather and I left before the fireworks, and I was in bed asleep before they went off - I'm no good at staying up late anymore.

The highlight of the party for me was watching my boss, an F-16 fighter pilot and former weapon school instructor (think Top Gun for the Air Force) play the X-box version of a video game where you get to fly an F-16 in combat.  Compared with the two guys who own the game, jerkily pulling the plane hither and yon, the Col smoothly flew through the landscape demolishing the enemy.  On his first encounter the young Captain was literally in mid-sentence saying "you'll have to shoot this plane 2 or three time to bring it down" as a fireball appeared on screen with the word "destroyed" next to it.  We all started laughing, and just sat back and enjoyed the show.

On Thursday, I got to dine at BJ's, a favorite among many of us, as we had a farewell dinner for a Chief Master Sergeant on his way to California.  Unfortunately, Heather couldn't make it to this engagement due to a prior commitment, but I got to make a new friend, as I was seated next to two of my co-workers' 3 year old niece.  I helped her color on her place mat and talked to her throughout the meal, enjoying her childish antics, like licking her arm when she got milk on it, and crawling under the dinner table because she was bored.  Her aunt had her hands full, and I expect some of her behavior was due to knowing she could get away with more with her than with mom, because that's how it usually works.  By the time everyone was ready to leave I had made a new buddy, and she held on to my arm and said "I don't want you to go, I don't want you to go."

Of course I explained that I had to go home and go to bed, and I was sure she also needed to get to bed as well, so she could wake up ready to play in the morning.  So she asked if I could come over and play and I told her maybe sometime.  Then she made her way down to her uncle who's house she's staying at and asked if I could come over and swing with her on their swing set.  He found that funny of course, probably because I would actually fit on the swing.

I was struck once again at how easy it is to befriend small children, and how we could all do well to be more like them.  Not by throwing all manners out the window, but by opening ourselves more freely to others.  If only we could erase the years of scars and callouses that build up on our hearts and lose our cautious distrust, we could be as welcoming of each new person we meet as we were when we were little.  We would all have more friends and life would be that much sweeter.  I guess that's why God gave the world children, to remind us all of our better selves.