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My Toddler Loves to Talk to Strangers, So Please Don't Ignore Him

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Stranger,

You don't know what it means to me when you take the time to engage with my son. He says hi, and you—instead of ignoring him because he is small and you are busy— look him in the eye, say hello and maybe ask him a question or two. He is little but he is learning every day.

It’s happened far too often. My son will look up at an adult, chomping at the bit to tell someone all about the velociraptor on his shirt (it’s just like Blue from “Jurassic World”, see?!) and they will briefly glance in his direction and then look away. It breaks my heart.

My 3-year-old loves to meet new people. Unlike his introverted mama, he constantly seeks out new friendships. When I take him to the park, secretly hoping it's not busy, he's disappointed if there are “no friends” there.

Young kids who love to talk and meet new people are simply learning about the world. Right now, my son is full of curiosity and hope that people want to know about him. I love that about him and hope he will never change. I want him to know that there's more good out there than bad, that most people are kind and that he can be whatever he wants to be. So, it helps me when strangers don’t ignore him in public.

The world could use a little more kindness, and it doesn't take very much effort—just a smile and a simple greeting.

Kids are more aware than we often give them credit for. My son already realizes when he's being teased, he's hurt when he tries to join with other children playing and they exclude him.

So, thank you, stranger, for taking the time to teach your kids to be inclusive by being a good role model. I'm doing my best to teach mine, as well. The world could use a little more kindness, and it doesn't take very much effort—just a smile and a simple greeting.

I’ve noticed that it's often the oldest people in our society that are the most engaging with kids in public. They take the time to greet kids they see in their communities and give them their full attention. Maybe with age we all come to realize the inherent value of children and appreciate them more.

The other day, I took my son to the grocery store and we ran into the employee who, no matter how busy she was, has always taken the time to greet my son. Ever since he was a baby, she would peer into his car seat and remark, “What big, beautiful blue eyes you have!” She has always made him feel special. He recognizes her now and loves to tell her what's going on his life. This kind employee has become a big part of the reason that this particular grocery store is “my store,” the one I shop at every week. She is now a friend to both of us.

Thank you, all the kind strangers out there, for not ignoring my son. You're teaching him about communication, and giving me hope that maybe the elusive “village” for our kids really can exist. And that means more to me than you’ll ever know.

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