Over the weekend we went to the Ponce City Market in Midtown. Ponce City Market is a really cool building reuse. It used to be THE Sears and Roebuck in Atlanta, and now it’s this hip shopping center, with restaurants, offices, lofts, and a mini-amusement park on the 10th floor roof. It’s connected to The Beltway, it has awesome artwork, and Santa and the Grinch were not here there to visit with. Honestly, this trip deserves its own blog post, and I will get around to it, but today I wanted to share a story from that night.
On the rooftop at “Skyline Park” Jackson met a kid about his age on the “Tower” ride, which is essentially just one of those rides where you get buckled into a seat with a partner, then use the rope to hoist yourselves up even further into the sky. It was a big hit. After riding the tower about ten times, they switched to the three-story slide. All the rides and games are unlimited for a $15 bracelet, and we spent a total of about five hours there. When you factor in a meeting with Mr. Claus, ice skating, and checking out all the cool artifacts in the old building, Jackson was beat by the time we left.
But, right before we headed for the old service elevator to take the slow ride back down, Jackson got this look of panic in his eyes. He sort of froze where he was and looked nervously at us. I thought for a moment that he’d lost his prizes that he’d worked so hard to win at the “Break A Plate” game, so I quickly checked my purse to see if they were still there. They were. We asked him what was up.
He was running his palms together as he said, “I dunno. I just… Umm… I feel like I want to give my new friend my phone number, just in case, I don’t know, he’s ever what’s to meet up here again.” Jerimiah and I looked at each other for a split second of indecision and then said yes! Go give him your number.
Jackson has his own phone. I know, I know. He’s 11 and that’s too young and your kids won’t have a phone until they are 18 and okay, yeah right, good luck with that. But seriously, he has it because my anxiety, as we all know, is through the roof at times and when he wants to stay at home alone while I run to the grocery store, or when he goes to a friend’s house to play, or even when he just walks a couple aisles over at Target, I need to know I can call him. (Or at least track his phone.) So yeah. We do let him give his number out to kids, mainly friends at school who also have phones, but this was the first time we allowed him to give his number out to a new friend, and honestly it was a bit scary, but the lesson was worth it.
Listen, it’s hard as hell to make friends. No one can tell you that more than me, an introverted, awkward, 30-something who hates small talk, but loves a good “My hamster died when I was 10…” story. And I’m nervous, always have been and always will be, to give my number out to new people. I’ve felt what Jackson was feeling a gazillion times, even just exchanging numbers with the other room parents. It’s scary for some of us, y’all. And he was nervous, but Dad and I said to go for it.
So he nervously walked back outside to the games to find his friend. He asked me to come with, so I did. We wrote his number on a receipt paper, and Jackson approached the boy. He nervously tapped him on the shoulder and the boy turned around and smiled. I was out of earshot, but I could see what happened. The boy took the paper, smiled, and waved as Jackson ran back to me, then the boy stood up and stuck the paper into his back pocket, as Jackson turned around to give one last wave.
On the way down on the elevator Jackson was still nervous. You could tell he went way out of his comfort zone, and he was replaying what happened. We let him have a few moments, then he smiled and said, “He took my number.”
“Maybe he will call,” I said. “Or maybe not, but you were brave dude.”
“Thanks,” he said, and he rode the elevator down in anxious smiles.
Listen, making friends isn’t too hard when you’re a kid, but as you age it gets so much harder. And most of the time it’s because we are so worried that someone will reject us, that we just don’t try. We gotta stop doing that, y’all. Relationships are worth the try. And maybe Jackson’s new friend will never call. But he did something brave. Something that scared him. And he came out the other side. And that’s a win in our book.
To something brave, y’all.