One stranger to another. An honest approach. A simple question…
“Do you know any tricks?”
We were all taken by surprise.
We had only stopped briefly as we had reached our destination and now about to choose our seating when a boy about the same age as my 10-year old suddenly appeared right in front of us.
He repeated his question. This time directed at me, in English. “Does he know any tricks?”
“He speaks Spanish” I replied, looking at my son indicating I would like to be excused as the middleman.
Seconds after there was laughter, playing and friendly competition, with and without scooters, the very object that prompted the interaction in the first place.
That’s all it takes for kids to find and make new friends, even if only for then and there and just for a few moments.
I’ve witnessed this many times with my kids when we are out and about. At the park, the playground or just out walking. Anywhere really and I’m just as amazed each time.
It makes me think that’s not the case anymore. Once we reach and pass a certain age, we seem to have replaced that innocence and openness with distrust and caution.
Instead, we more or less need to be introduced by a common acquaintance, friend or other social arrangements like work, before its deemed appropriate to even consider asking any question that would indicate an interest in getting closer or just hang out for a few moments.
It’s even hard to imagine walking up to a complete stranger on the street and ask the same question “Do you know any tricks?” Or one of the more common lead questions the kids uses: “Do you wanna play?” or “can I join in?”
How would they react? Hell, how would you react?
The most likely scenarios is a forced polite no, you might be met with the get-out-of-my-face-stare while moving on without any further interaction. If one could call it that. Which I would say is definitely a shame.
Let’s instead imagine a world, like that of kids, where you could just walk up to anyone anywhere and go. “Hi, I’m Dane. That looks like fun, can I join in?”