“You’ve got gumption.”
The Sarge said this to me the other day after taking the Bacon Bit to a new play group. After I got done laughing at him for speaking like an octogenarian, I thought about what he said. It was actually a pretty nice compliment.
I grew up in the same house from the time I was born until I left for college at 19. I’ve known most of my hometown friends since we were running around the playground at Harbor Heights Elementary School. And with the exception of a few summer camps, I never had to make new friends or be the new kid at school.
Despite only going to college twenty miles from home, I only knew one person going into it. I was excited to get out on my own and live it up but then reality hit. I had to make new friends. No one knew who I was or what I was about. And it was a tough transition. I never knew I was shy in group settings. I found out I was uncomfortable navigating a new place by myself. And I quickly realized that deep friendships require time to grow.
Since those formative years, I’ve moved a few times and made plenty of new friends. And each time, it gets a bit easier. Even if my new or future friends don’t know who I am or what I’m about, I now know the answers to those questions. I am comfortable being me and comfortable giving myself time to find my place in each new city.
I’ve come to accept the fact that Lena won’t have the same childhood as me and that’s okay. She will be faced with change much earlier than her mama and I want to make sure she’s ready. I don’t know what it’s like to be the new kid in school but I do understand that feeling of uncertainty.
The best way I know to prepare her for the inevitable changes that come with being a military kid is by showing her. So I’ve gone to new playgroups and music classes and baby yoga with her. I usually don’t even know where we’re going let alone anyone in the class. And it’s uncomfortable at first but I still do it. I make a deal with myself to talk to at least one person. And I put on a smile and some confidence because my little copycat is watching me for cues.
So far, it seems to be working. My little pig-tailed girl is social, chatty and seems to thrive in group settings. She’ll check to see that I’m watching what she’s doing but for the most part, if there are other kids around, she wants to be in the middle of it all. It’s the same way at home; there is no doubt she is feels safe and loved. She is constantly busy; always talking or rearranging or busting out in spontaneous dance moves.
I hope she’ll keep that sense of confidence and independence as she grows up. Even though she’s just eighteen months old, she has taught and changed me so much. Apparently, she’s already managed to give me some gumption; I wonder what else is in store!