I saw something this weekend, and it keeps rolling around in my mind. I wanted to share it with you, because I had the kind of discovery that could change the way the world looks to many people.
If you read my stuff, you know I live in Kid World. I raise em, teach em, coach em, and love em…even if they aren’t mine. So, of course, this piece of guidance is motivated by kids, and made for kids. But I think it applies to a great many adults out there, too.
It was another Fastpitch Softball Tournament. I’ve told you about one of them already, and you may begin to wonder if I’m a sports nut or something. Yes. I was amazing as a kid. Played every sport…natural athlete.
Did you fall for that? ‘Cuz if you did, I have 10 left over gallons of this pink cleaning stuff that I bought from a fast talking salesman I could sell you super cheap.
I wasn’t really the sporty type, but luckily my kids didn’t inherit my lack of coordination. And so, they are in every sport under the sun. I can’t help them to throw a wicked curveball, or give them tips on dribbling down the court, but I can encourage, reassure, and cheer. All of which I do loudly.
I support them in their competitive endeavors, because I think there are many lessons to be learned from Sports if you do it right.
So, back to this weekend. At the last-minute, we were missing one girl out of our team of nine. The coach has many connections, and arranged to have a willing player from a neighboring school district help us out.
As the girls warmed up for the first game of the tournament, I watched the other girls chatter and giggle. They all know each other, play softball together…and my stomach started to clench. Our new little player wasn’t being included. I immediately felt worried sick for her.
I put a bug in my own daughter’s ear, to go make her feel welcome. At the moment, she wasn’t in the position to do it, but she promised she would as soon as possible.
I kept my eyes trained on her. Ready to leap in like some Mama Ninja extraordinaire. I didn’t have a plan, but my mothering/teaching instincts were in overdrive.
As I watched, I realized all my fretting was for not. She kept a smile on her face constantly. She laughed easily. When one of the girls accidentally overthrew the ball to her, she ran after it without a complaint.
She started asking questions to some of the girls standing nearby. She wanted to know about our softball team, our town. She was genuinely interested.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I began to witness the girls swarm around her, like bees to honey. She was a good player to be admired, for sure. But what she radiated, was pure joy and a zest for life. She could have so easily walked in and separated herself from the group. She could have expected them to make her feel comfortable.
She didn’t. She came in with no expectations. She was solid in who she was, and there was a glow about her. She had a magnetic aura that you could feel, like a humming vibration.
There is a booklet written by Abigail Van Buren, called How To Be Popular You’re Never Too Young or Too Old (Dear Abby). It was written after Abby received a troubling letter from a young teen. The girl was so confused about how to make friends. It seemed no matter what she did, she repelled them. Abby’s advice:
No matter what you wear, the expression on your face is your greatest asset — or liability. Would you want to strike up a conversation with someone who looks like he (or she) is mad at the world? Well, neither would anyone else. So, if you’re wearing a perpetual frown, get rid of it. Trade it for a smile.
“You can walk down the street in any foreign country in the world, and even though you may not be able to understand a word they’re saying, when you see a smile, you get a message. It’s the universal way of saying, ‘I’m friendly.’
Abby’s booklet is pure gold, and there’s so many nuggets of wisdom in this tiny bit of writing. My favorite, that I took away from it was this:
“There are two kinds of people — those who come into a room and their attitude says, ‘Here I am!’ and those who come into a room and their attitude is, ‘There you are!
“The ‘there-you-are’ type is the winner. If you want to receive a warm welcome, remember the happier you are to see others, the happier they’ll be to see you.”
Some kids just figure this out. They have a social intelligence, that guides them. Others struggle and struggle. And they turn into adults that experience the same struggle, just with other adults.
The older I get, the more I realize how much there is to notice, and learn just by watching others make their way through this world. Abby is right. You are never too young or too old.