I was watching my son in the barbershop this morning, and I was amazed at how friendly and innocent he was. Even at 9am, there are some hard looking dudes in the barbershop, and no one was feeling particularly chatty and up to chatting with an effusive three year old. Yet there was Nyles speaking to everyone, asking how they were, what they were doing, and the other rhetorical questions that kids have in their endless arsenal. No matter how young, or old the person was, they temporarily put aside their own problems or thoughts, and gave Nyles a smile, or a high-five or some type of acknowledging gesture. It was sweet, innocent and very unlike me. I don't speak to people unless I absolutely have to, and even then, I do it begrudgingly.
But Nyles' behavior in the barbershop got me to thinking about me and when I lost that child-like innocence. I'm a bit crotchety these days, and I have been that way for quite a long time. But in my younger days I was young, engaging and most importantly innocent. I think that ended when my parents divorced in 1994 when I was 19. I was still friendly on the inside, but when my parents split up, and then when my dad got engaged a few months after that, it just took me to a dark, withdrawn place. I became an introvert and I decided that it was easier to keep folks away (with some exceptions). I thought I'd change in 1997 when I had my first son, but his personality mirrored mine (post-divorce) so there was really no need to change anything. Even now at age 17, my son and I have the same personality--which probably means I'm immature and need to grow up a bit. I've gotten some wonderful things with the version of me, but I need to progress.
Nyles has the same personality as my wife. He's outgoing, he's chatty, he likes to interact with people, and he has the amazing ability to put me in situations which are way out of my comfort zone. He'll see another kid his age and start speaking to the kid and the parents, which means I have to do the same, which starts a bullshit conversation that doesn't end as quickly as I need it to. I noticed that while I'm talking to other adults, Nyles stares at me and my mannerisms, and I realized he probably is taking in everything I do and say--which he should do considering I'm his father.
All of this rambling, combined with some other events which have gone down at work, have made me think that at age 40, it is time to make some mild tweaks to the way I interact with other adults. There will still be some curmudgeonly ways, but I need to start peppering in some of the normal behaviors which adults display in normal interpersonal relationships. Who knows how long this will last, but I will give it a try..