Saturday, September 1, 2012

Stopping to smell the flowers & chat with strangers

City worker just finished raking up the last of the tree bits.
Something I love about parenting is how it makes me stop & pay attention to things I'd ordinarily ignore. A couple of days ago, a city crew was out pruning trees on our street. Sprout heard the noise of their saws & was drawn to the window. I brought him outside & we watched from a safe distance on our front steps. Sprout paid rapt attention as the men cut low branches & suckers off the base of the trees, then tossed them into the truck.

After the guys had finished the work with the power saws, we went a bit closer & they chatted with us a bit as they used loppers & hand saws to finish off the job. The younger guy on the crew told me proudly that he had a 15-month-old & showed us a photo of her on his smartphone. Situations like this happen all the time when I'm out & about with Sprout. People seem more inclined to talk to you when they have a baby or toddler watching their activities. 

I think the frequent conversations with strangers--be it other parents at the playground, elderly ladies on the bus, city workmen of various sorts in our neighbourhood, people asking about the bike seat when we're stopped at lights--has really helped me feel more connected to my community. I find regularly talking to other people & finding common ground with strangers (we both have toddlers, for example) is so key to maintaining empathy for others, seeing that we're all in the same boat. I hope that it'll rub off on Sprout too.

It's not just about having a child, however. Living in a pedestrian-oriented urban neighbourhood, taking transit & cycling a lot, we have so many opportunities to interact with people. I wonder if we'd talk to strangers as often if we lived in a less dense car-oriented suburb?

Do you find that you talk to strangers more since you have a child? (or a dog--I hear you get a similar effect)


1 comment:

  1. Since Jonah was tiny, he's always loved construction and workmen. We've found all to be very, very friendly to little children who want to watch them. I've spent a significant chunk of the last 5 years sitting or standing near a "jobsite" so Jonah can watch. When the watermain shutoff just beside our driveway was moved last summer, the city workers even offered Jonah a chance to sit in the backhoe, but unfortunately he had to get to school before it arrived.
    Generally, I find the public very chatty with me about the kids too. At the park, the mall, the grocery store, the hardware store...the people on the street as we walk by.


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