Don't Worry Mom, I Didn't Talk to Any Strangers Today!

My kindergarten career lasted two years. It was a long, stressful time of my life. A time filled with kids who wanted to invade my personal space and even engage me in conversation.

I was too smart to be drawn into any of those traps. Planet Familiar was secure inside my head and Planet Alien was everywhere else. As frightening as it was, it turned out to be an effective training ground. By the end of my second year, I could anticipate the logarithmic movements of a playground mob and surreptitiously take evasive action. It was fairly simple to avoid contact except for the teachers.

The teachers were somewhat of a wild card in playground dynamics. While they had a generally predictable pattern amongst themselves, occasionally they would conspire to entrap me and engage me with crowd torture. Crowd torture usually involved abusive statements along the lines of: “You should go play with the other kids. It will be fun!”

I would have preferred to be locked in the broom closet. Those kids were strangers! The teachers were strangers! When those dangerous confrontations would arise, I would slink away into one of my pre-calculated escape routes. To me, watching the crowd of kids was entertaining, engaging with them was not an option.

I'm sure if I was a little kid today, I would have to be seen by some expert who would label me an extreme introvert, possibly Asperger's, and whatever the opposite of ADD is.

Fortunately I did not have to endure the examination of a behavior “expert.” I eventually came out of my shell, sort of. I can function in public like a human being. I can ask directions if I must. And I can offer a helping hand to unknown, to me, people when the situation arises. In a short five decades, I've come a long way.

Or maybe not.

Recently, while on a sortie in a store, I all but walked past our pastor's wife. I was certainly not trying to avoid her. She is a gracious lady who is always very affirming. I just did not see her until the last second, because I was inside my bubble, locked in on my mission.

Yes, I was tired. Yes, I had a long to-do list. Yes, I had all the right reasons. But the truth is, when in doubt, I had reverted to my familiar comfort zone. It would seem that after a half century, I really haven't progressed so much after all. It's kind of lame, but it's also amusing. I suppose if I can't laugh at myself, who can I laugh at. Maybe I should just get a pack of crayons and sit quietly in the corner with a coloring book.