I am blessed with a son who has exceptional social skills. He smiles, he chats, he charms, he bonds, he canoodles. He’s even on a first name basis with ALL the other kids mums at his school. Thats right – i go to pick him up and women of all ages, shapes and sizes know him by name. ‘Hello Zachie! How are you today?” Not only that, but HE knows all THEIR names. ‘Thats so-and-so’s mum Marisa. And thats so-and-so’s mum Vanessa…’ He uses his ‘gift’ to extract smiling attention, candy, free food and even money. The boy is only 7 but he has more friends than i do. ( except thats really not saying much is it!?) Let me reword that – the boy is only 7 but if he had a FB page he would probably have more ‘LIKES’ than Lady Gaga.
However, there are some problems associated with having such a sociable child. One of them is safety. And not just his own. Before we moved here, there was a day when the Boy was engaged in a loooong conversation with a strange man standing outside our chainlink fence. We shouted for him to come inside. ‘What were you talking to that man about?’ His reply –
‘Oh nothing. He just wanted to know how many dogs we have. What are their names…How many people live in our house…what are their names…What time does my dad come home from work…Do I know where my dad keeps his money….And how old are my big sisters? And which rooms are theirs? Just stuff like that..’
Great. The boy was giving potential robbers and psycho attackers all the info they needed to break in. Needless to say, we had a loooong chat with the Boy. About safety. About talking to strangers. About what NOT to say to people.
But the Boy finds it difficult to curb his enthusiasm for baring the family’s soul to one and all. He tells people what girl his big brother thinks is cute. And he tells people “my mum cant talk on the phone right now. She has a headache and said that she will kill the next person who bothers her.” He also takes great delight in stretching the truth – telling people he was sent for ‘time out’ in a cupboard. And had to miss dinner. ‘My mum wouldnt let me eat any food. Im always hungry. They never feed me.’ (cue woeful sniff and big woeful eyes that try to distract you from the fact that his chubby self is popping the buttons on his jeans ). And you REALLY want to tape his mouth shut. And you wish that you only ever taught him to speak Klingon.
We have moved to a new neighborhood. And of course he’s thrilled with the opportunity to make new friends. Every single stranger is just a potential ZACH BEST BUDDY. Yesterday we were getting ready to head out to the movies as a family. Until we overheard our sons conversation with some RANDOM teenage boys ( translation: hoodlums) on the street.
“Hey guess what, we’re going to the movies!”
“Really? Whos going?”
“My family and ME!”
“Really? Is your whole family going? Are you sure? Even your dad and mum?”
“So nobody will be home then? Are you sure?”
“Yes thats right! Cos we’re all going to the Movies! Isnt that great?!”
Yes just great. And just like that, the overeager Chatterer lost his free pass to the family outing. And I had to stay home with him. So together we could make lots of noise and ensure nobody broke in and robbed us blind.
I am thankful for a friendly sociable son. I will never have to worry about him sitting in the corner of a playground sobbing because he has no friends. But i wish he was a little more discerning with his tell-all tendencies because now i have to constantly worry about thieves and child snatchers. Not to mention worry about what the heck the rest of the world knows about us thanks to his big mouth.
So if you see my son with his mouth taped shut. Please just walk on by. And just dont ask….