“I don’t like this park. It’s scary!”
“What’s scary, sweetie? The jungle gym, or the other kids?”
“There’s too many kids!”

So, Ione and I spent the afternoon sitting on a park bench, talking with the other stay-at-home moms, and watching her future classmates play on the coolest jungle gym I have ever seen. For the last week, she has been so excited about going to this park playdate to meet some of the other new kindergartners she’ll be in class with this Fall. Or, I should say, she was excited – all the way up until we pulled into the parking lot and she spied the clamoring hordes.

She wilted.

But, hell! I don’t blame her. I was scared outta my mind, too! But, knowing that she can smell anxiety and unease, I positive-se;f-talked myself into an extroverted frenzy. After a little pep talk from “joely” , I really thought she and I were going to be ok at this playdate. I even had the hope that she might leave with a new little friend. But, alas, it appears as if 5 year olds can be just as intimidating as their smiling, friendly, Christian moms. Ohhhh, Ione. What genetics have I doomed you with?

So, we spent 60 minutes or so on the bench. And, one by one, the moms would come over and introduce themselves and strike up a conversation. they were all so incredibly nice – and so supportive and respectful of Ione’s fear of new people. Each mother, in turn, would bring their child over for introductions. Then, a short conversation followed by, “oh, ‘child x’ needs to go potty. We’ll be back in a minute.” Then, the next set would come over. It was very sweet. Everything except for the fact that I am very uncomfortable with the word “potty.” I have never used it and never will. I always swore I would ask my kids, “do you need to take a piss?” before I would invite them “to go potty.” I know. It’s weird. Welcome to my world.

Ione hung in their and eventually played on the jungle gym – definitely not withthe other kids, but at least she was near them. As we got in the van, I stopped. I turned around and looked that lil monkey right in the eye. And, I said, “I am SO proud of you. You were scared and you hung in there. You were so polite to the other moms and children. I know you were anxious and scared, but you hung in there. You are an amazing little girl.”

The thing I didn’t tell her is that when I was her age, I would have gone mute and curled up into a fetal position, paralyzed with fear, until my mom took me away from all those scary people invading my private little world. Thank God for Erika’s DNA.

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