with the three year old these days. Sometimes I say she was the best thing that could have happened to me, my husband and the six-year old. The husband and six-year-old are introverted, and I hedge on that side of the line, too. The three-year-old, however, serves as a vision caster of what we all might be at our friendliest, out-going-est, other-focused-est. She's the one who shouts at acquaintances in Hy-Vee, or turns to me, palms against her cheeks and mouth wide open, "MOM!! It's our friends!!!" (The "friends" she met for the first time five minutes ago on aisle 4). When we see them again in the check-out line, this is confirmation of the prominence they should take in our lives. She squeals. Points them out again. Asks to "go say hi!"
While the six-year-old is fully acquainted with the language of feeling like the odd-one out, the three year old has no concept of exclusion. She takes it upon herself to include everyone, to chase after every little four year old in her dance class lobby, ask them their names, ask them to dance while waiting for class to start. She squeals over and over as each child enters the building. "Mom!! It's another friend!!!" She doesn't know their names or where they live or who their siblings are. THe mothers direct their attention to her and laugh at the three-year-old's hearty welcome. The other preschoolers are sometimes ambivalent, withdrawn, curious. None of them welcome her in kind, but check her out from the safety of their mother's knees.
But the three year old just keeps on inviting. Us introverts would get tired after the first greeting, the first invitation or two--but not her. She pushes herself out into the middle of the room, dances and flings her body in all directions, eager and earnest in her vigil for others to join her.
The cool thing is that her vigilance is climate-changing. Take a room of tired out parents and tired-out kids. Put them with this three year old for five minutes, and people smile and giggle, if only at her enthusiasm and boldness. I am energized watching her. She's my hero.