“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

We took my son to the town playground Sunday evening. Our town park isn’t fancy, but it has an embarrassment of riches in the eyes of a three-year-old. It has THREE sets of playground equipment, well worn, but well maintained, separated by a creek bed (which from my childhood is a necessary element of imaginary play), two bridges and a walking path. Harry ran between the three in ecstatic confusion, hardly knowing which slide was the fastest, which ladder the most challenging, which swing went the highest. He was in little boy heaven.

Except that Harry largely plays alone. It isn’t that he inherited his mother’s solitary tendencies. From a social standpoint, Harry is his father’s son; easy and outgoing, always the first to start a conversation. But he has almost no interest in children his own age. Harry is drawn to older kids like a June bug to a porchlight, and he approaches it with the same physical bombardment. With his sophisticated-but-still-toddler diction, he will strike up a conversation and shadow them, trying to draw them into his chase and mirror games.

Older children of our friends, through familiarity or affection, indulge Harry. He never met a teenager he didn’t like, or didn’t like him, and my friends’ children have endless patience for him. The children of strangers are not always so consistently enamored of him, with his non-existent introductions and his immediate familiarity. They don’t always play the games that they are automatically co-opted into with such enthusiasm by my son and are most often unwitting and uncooperative players in his impromptu games of tag. I watch his interactions with a mixture of envy at the ease that he approaches strangers and tiny referent pains at the little rejections that do not seem to faze him or daunt his enthusiasm at trying to make a new friend.

Last evening Harry “started” a game of tag among the monkey bars with a slender little blond girl about 3-4 years his senior. He ran up to her and then ran away squealing “You can’t catch me!” and I braced for her to stare quizzically at him and walk away. But she didn’t. She turned and chased him and then he chased her back. She ran nimbly away from him, always staying just out of Harry’s reach, to his obvious delight. His face shone as he chased her, to almost catch up before reversing and running breathlessly away until she pursued.

When she crossed the creek, which Harry was not allowed to do, her father coaxed her back, telling her to be mindful of her little playmate. And she was.  For an hour or more, they chased and played back and forth amongst the slides and swings and see-saws. Trying to instill something approaching social graces out of him, my husband directed Harry to introduce himself and ask the little girl her name. She was Samantha. She looked like a Samantha – golden skinned and blonde and patient and quiet and gentle.

The meaning of the name Samantha?

Listener of God.

Blessed are the Samanthas of the world and the parents who raise them. Because they answer the prayers of little boys and their mothers, one breathless hour of tag at a time.

June 16th, 2008 at 3:08 pm
5 Responses to “Blessed are the Samanthas”
  1. 1
    OS Says:

    I love those moments when you run into other people’s children that are sweet and wonderful.

  2. 2
    Gillian Says:

    I hope my children will turn out to be as wonderful as Harry and Samantha!

    Thanks for sharing such a delightful story. I really admire Harry’s confidence…I’m not nearly so good at making friends!

  3. 3
    Deirdre Says:

    what a great post. Listener of God, Samantha, may God rain down blessings on you and your parents.

    and Bri, you might want to start the negotiations with her parents now. She’s going to bring a high bride-price……….

  4. 4
    Willow Says:

    Robbin, the new blog is absolutely beautiful! Just had to say that first. And I’m so glad that you guys ran into a Samantha and hope that you run into many, many more as Harry grows up. And kudos to you for having raised a child who isn’t afraid to make new friends out of strangers!

  5. 5
    gerbil Says:

    That post made my heart happy.