I'm not the best at meeting new people (or spending time with old friends, for that matter). Instead, I spend the majority of most days holed up in the comfort of my home, where I live and work, happily avoiding the rest of the world unless I'm in the middle of my very necessary morning coffee run. I'm an introvert by nature, and prefer being alone instead of in the middle of a crowd, but there are some ways my kid actually helped me make friends and, well, I guess I'm OK with that. The occasional conversation outside of my beloved laptop can't be all that bad, can it?
My daughter was born the exact opposite of me. With her outgoing, extroverted personality, it's nearly impossible to avoid striking up a conversation with a table full of strangers whenever we're out and about. Technically, this was more true when she was younger and chattier, although she's only slightly more reserved in public spaces now that puberty has rolled on in. Those times I sat awkwardly through her dance class's parent watch night, or trekked through a school open house, she forced me so far out of my comfort zone I wasn't sure if I'd ever leave the house again.
There came a point where I didn't have to make a first move — or any kind of move — to be social, simply because my daughter did it for me. I hadn't realized how isolated I'd become until her personality unwittingly connected me with some of her friends' parents. I fought my need to be anti-social because, with every circumstance, she showed me it's not that bad and that maybe, just maybe, I'd actually like making new friends. With that, here's some ways my girl helped me come out of my shell and meet new people at times I didn't think it was possible. Between you and me, I guess you could say she's somewhat a "magic worker."
She Spoke When I Couldn't
When I'm around people, especially people I don't know, I fold inward and let everyone else speak while I remain quiet. I don't prefer to be the center of any attention and feel uncomfortable if there's a need for me to talk to someone for the first time. When my daughter started preschool, I wasn't sure how to spark up a conversation with her teacher or other students' parents, so when my little girl would begin (and end) a conversation for me, it definitely helped ease my anxiety so that I could eventually take over.
Now we have the opposite problem. My daughter speaks so often she usually cuts into conversations I'm trying to have with another adult, all on my own. This is obviously my fault for relying on her outgoingness a little too much through the years.
She Invited Friends Over Without Permission
My least favorite part of parenting are the invites I knew nothing about — particularly the ones telling kids they can come to our house on a specific date and time. My daughter used to be a little more generous with these "invited," but while I wasn't too happy when I found out, I let things happen a time or two so she could have the play date she wanted.
To my surprise, it helped me befriend whomever's parent at the same time. I guess she did me a favor?
She Invited Herself To Their Houses Without Permission
Likewise, my daughter somehow scored her own invitations to her classmates' houses, and while I sometimes questioned whether or not their parents knew (in the way I didn't), I had to learn how to speak up on my own. When she was invited over for sleepovers, it took even more communication between myself and the other parents. At some point, I guess you could say I accidentally made friends.
She Gave Our Phone Number Away At School
Another interesting aspect of having a social child is when receiving multiple phone calls from multiple classmates to speak to her. At one point, I did, in fact, make friends with the mother of one because she called so often. This is something I never would have done before.
She Attended (Way Too Many) Birthday Parties
One of the joys of parenting involves hauling your kid from party to party for kids you've never seen before, then (if they're still pretty young), sitting awkwardly with the other parents until it's over. I've done this way too many times, but at the end of each event I can say I've made a friend or two (or sometimes none and I'm ready to get the hell out of there, but still).
She Has Extracurricular Hobbies
My daughter has been in soccer, t-ball, karate, dance, tumbling, and cheerleading because she loves to be around other kids and trying new things. I'm happy she has so many hobbies, but it can be exhausting. Throughout all of these events I've been made to attend, of course I've made some friends. Some of which I still talk to, and others who've since disappeared after she moved on from that interest (and I'm OK with that).
She Forces Me Out Of The House
When I'd rather hide inside the comfort of my home is usually when my girl insists we go walk around the neighborhood. We're surrounded by other kids, and usually if we're out they all are, too. There's one family we've become especially close with that I might've never even met if my kids didn't make me get outside every now and then.
She Keeps A Close Set Of Friends
Of course there's daily drama to deal with, thanks to my daughter's age, but for the most part she has a few steadfast, key friends. They're the ones I trust her with, and who's parents I've come to know since she's been in school. If she didn't attend school, I can honestly say I'd probably never make another friend.
She Refuses To Let Me Hide
No matter where we're at, if we see someone familiar in public I'm not exactly friends with I tend to hide. I don't know why this is my go-to response (other than being anxious by nature), but when I do this, my daughter generally pulls me into view or runs up to the person we know — a person I could be friends with if I'd give it a chance — and starts a conversation. She won't let me cower, and I suppose, that's what I love most about her.