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Green eyes

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

My eyes are, in fact, green. Sometimes, though, they get even greener. Greener with jealousy. It's wrong, I know, but I am jealous of Woody.

For an eight-year-old, Woody has such confidence and comfort socially. I don't know where he developed that, because it certainly didn't come from me. I am not intrinsically social, much as I would like to be. I have to work at it. My husband swears it didn't come from him, either.

Woody is a kid that gets invited to so many birthday parties that we sometimes have to decline them just for scheduling sanity. When we are out and about in town, other children will come up to him and excitedly say hello. When I ask him who the child was, Woody will shrug and grin, "I don't know!" He's easy-going (outside of the family, anyway), smiley and goofy. He's a real kid's kid. He likes being a kid.

When we are in a gathering of almost any kind, Woody will walk up to other kids and just start talking. He does it pretty much without thinking. For me the internal dialog would go something like this:

I feel really out of place here. I don't know anyone. I dressed wrong. Do I look like a dweeb? I probably look like a dweeb. I should try to talk to people, though. I know that's what you're supposed to do in these situations. Okay. Maybe that person over there. Okay, here I go.

And on like that. Pathetic, huh? But with Woody, he just does it. With an impish grin on his face, he makes new friends in a heartbeat. And I am in awe.

When I watch him do this, I wonder. I wonder if he'll always be this way. Will adolescence angst it out of him? I hope not. But I also wonder if I need to worry. Will this super friendly manner backfire in the future if he befriends a less than honest or honorable person? How do I help him learn some of those personality discernment skills without squashing the best part of this manner of his?

I suppose I needn't worry too much on this level, yet. He is only eight! As I watch him with his gaggle of friends, laughing and smiling and playing, I get joy, too. Along with the jealousy, I get the privilege of the spillover of that social comfort. Joy from watching a child of mine so happy, and joy from new friends. A couple of mothers of his friends have become good friends of mine. We would not know each other if it weren't for Woody's social nature.

Meanwhile, I watch and marvel and wonder — and get a little green eyed. I figure he'll either be the class president or the class clown. Or both.

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