My oldest daughter and I came back from the family reunion last night so that I could see her off to camp this morning. Kiki and I got checked in, got her luggage thrown into the truck, and then stood around with the other families waiting for the “all aboard” call for the buses.
Kiki wasn’t hanging out with her friends. She was staying kind of close to me. Why? well, mostly I think it’s because she didn’t recognize anybody. All these people were new.
I tried to nudge her in the direction of other girls a couple of times, but she didn’t rise to the occasion.
I told her that one of the skills she could be learning this week was “how to introduce yourself to people you’ve never met before.”
She said “I can’t do that, Dad. I’m SHY.”
I got down on my knees (which puts my face just a little below hers) and said “You’re not shy. Shy would have its face buried in my armpit. You just don’t know how to do this yet. You’ll learn, and you’ll be fine.”
Moments later someone she knew came tearing up to her, and they greeted each other with age-typical giggles and hugs and grabbing. I slipped away while she wasn’t looking, and stood about 25 feet off, leaning on a lamp-post, watching. It took her a good two minutes to realize I was gone. She found me quickly (I wasn’t hiding) and grinned at me. I grinned back.
I let her and her friend alone. There was a quick “everybody-gather-round” assembly, and while most parents stood with their kids, I stood almost completely out of earshot where I could barely see mine.
And then it was time to board the bus. Kiki’s friend (I’ll call her “Abby” because that’s not her name) had a friend (or maybe sister or cousin — I’m not clear on that) who was crying and didn’t want to go. Kiki and Abby bracketed the tearful friend, arms around her, and they walked to the bus together. They all squished into one bench seat (I remember, barely, when my butt was small enough that I could do that with my friends), and before too long the friend’s tears were gone and the three of them looked ready for the bus to GO already.
That’s my girl. She might think she’s shy, but when she sees somebody who really needs a friend, she’s there in an instant.
She does her Daddy proud, she does.