January 14, 2012

A for Awkward...

So there are quite a few things you can learn from kiddo birthday parties. One of them is how to deal with new situations and new people -- you can always run to the center and shout really loud. Everyone enjoys that and if you think about it, it is fun to do that. Only, you can't really do that if you are an adult even though it  breaks the ice and acts as a tension release mechanism. Or you can start jumping. That could be fun too. You can just go hopping from one new person to another or just hop to a beat in your head by yourself. Again, not an option for me. The third easy option is to partially hide your face behind your mom or dad and peek at the new folks standing in a comfortably close circle at a distance. Practical difficulties with this third option for me.
Another option (my favorite) is to start dancing, as demonstrated below. A long shot but this one's worth a try.

Anyway with all my fun options taken away, I get to deal with new people and situations the adult way i.e. by being awkward. The initial meeting is never awkward especially when you meet people in a new place through your kid's activities -- school, birthday parties and so on because that is when you just head randomly to a person or a set of people and introduce yourself as so and so's mom. Or you could stand in the middle of the room and just smile at everyone and some kind soul will usually head towards you and ask if you are so and so's mom.

But, what happens after that? When you meet all these people again at a similar gathering, what then? You have run out of "I am so and so's mom. You are so and so's mom?" stage. So now the onus is on you to say something interesting and meaningful while wondering if you can recognize your kid amongst the 20 other little ones running and jumping everywhere around you. Yes, I could always make small conversation and talk about the weather or something but I don't do small talk well. I know logically, that's how one ought to begin to build relationships. You can't talk philosophy and books and passions to a random person before they know you as more than so and so's mom...I can see how that would go.

"Hey, you are r's mom right?"

"Yes but I'd rather discuss the latest book you read or I read or we could talk what you are really passionate about...what are your thoughts on r2i, bharatanatyam, organic have to go? Right now? Ok."

The other issue is when we try to interact as adults while managing kids, we fall into what I call the-half-attention syndrome. This gets better as the kids get older but's like half our brain is focusing on the conversation with the adult while the other half is wondering why your 3 year old is licking that germ-infested bouncy contraption and giving you that look that says, "I dare you to react to this in this public gathering". The nice thing about the half-attention-syndrome with friends is you both know each other well enough to carry out a meaningful conversation with half finished sentences...

"Hey, did you read 'The help'? The movie didn't really...stop chewing on that thing! (that thing = a USB drive) justice to the...right now or no cake for you ever...but that other movie was a good adaptation, you know which, not my iphone...we should go to that new organic, no lollypop because it has's your brother's marriage coming along...yes, even if it's pink, it's bad,! don't throw it there!..."

Yup. Can't do that with new folks. I notice with new folks, it is a more contained half-attention-syndrome.

"Yes, we should definitely meet to set up a...excuse me, I need to..." pointing to your red faced bawling kid because another kid would not share the ball while 3 other balls are lying unnoticed on the floor.

But, I like to believe I am getting better at this plus if your spouse accompanies you to these get-togethers (thank you, k), you can actually get past the weather talk, which I did with a few folks here.

I am still awkward. I still tend to chatter to fill up voids but I am getting better at 'awkward'. I still would prefer a "Tu meri chamak chalo" routine instead...

© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.