It’s been some time; but I know I did share at least one story about my oldest grandchild’s social skills. It’s the honest truth that he began to reach out to other people the minute he emerged from the womb. I saw him about 10 minutes later when he was being wheeled in a newborn’s warmer to get his wrist I.D. (My son-in-law wouldn’t let the newborn out of his sight until that I.D. was secured.) But the little boy himself was busy looking the world over, making eye contact, bundled up but bursting with the energy to reach out and “touch someone”.
A few years later at a community pool, he approached a little girl about his size. “Hi, what’s your name?” he asked without a hint of shyness. The other child responded, “Marianne”. “Oh, hi, Marianne. I’m ‘B’, the landscaper.”
When he was about 8 and just entering a new school, he knocked on the door of the athletic director. “Excuse me, Mr. M”, he said apologetically; “I hope I am not disturbing you. I am BB; Just wanted to say ‘hello’, and tell you how happy I am to be at ______ (school’s name). His parents were shocked and unequivocally denied having suggested that he do this. It was all his idea and the first they had heard of it.
Now he has a two year old cousin, who is showing similar signs of social precocity. When his family of four goes out to eat, L often flirts with the diners at the next table, and often breaks out with easy introductions. “This is Mommy; this is Daddy; that is C., and I am L.”
Handshakes and self-conscious smiles all around among the adults. The origin of the socio-political ease shared by these first cousins is a mystery to us all. Grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles alike, protest, “He doesn’t get that from me!”
Whatever it’s genetic source, it’s a very special gift.