making friends with a toddler

I was having dinner with some friends last night, and they have two kids. One is in the 1-3 year range (I don’t actually know) and the other is fresh out of the oven. I’ve met the younger kid before, but she’s super shy and takes her time getting to know people. Last night, I somehow managed to befriend this child and connect with her on some sort of level through my iPhone.

Let me just say: this girl is smarter than me. K can’t be trusted to speak full words, let alone construct full sentences, but the words she does use are in two languages. This girl communicates with her parents fluently in both English and Spanish. I thought I had a hard time deciphering toddler-speak already; throw a language in there that I don’t know all of a sudden I not only feel lost but also kinda dumb.

So we were all chatting no one noticed K climbing up onto the bench to join us. Next thing I know, K is grabbing everything within reach and handing it to me. I had two cucumbers and a jalapeno, an aluminum roasting pan, a recently purchased and not-yet-put-away pound of sugar, and a houseplant off the windowsill. I was informed this meant we were now friends.

Then she had my phone, waving it around madly, with her tiny fingers stretching as far as possible to hold the damned thing with one hand. Girl has strong hands, I’ll give her that. She didn’t drop it once or even let it slip. She just wanted the obstinate thing unlocked.

That’s when I learned K loves pictures. She loves looking at them and sometimes even taking them. Her mom told me the flower crown was her favorite filter, but I’ll be damned if I could get that girl to smile.
Jupiter and K

I’ve never in my life seen a toddler do something for more than 11 minutes without losing interest, but K spent the next half an hour in my camera roll swiping expertly to the side and pushing the play button on videos. She would pause at pictures of Sinon and say Cat!, stop at the occasional picture of a dog and say Dog! And no shit every selfie of mine she came across she would stop and put her swiping hand pensively down on the table while staring at the photo, then look up at me, back at the photo…and then back to swiping. She stopped for several seconds at this photo of Pikes Peak:

pikes peak

…and said Oooooooo in wonder. She really liked it. Like, I don’t know what she saw or what could possibly have been going through her mind but she was truly amazed by something here. It’s times like that I wish kids could really let you know what they’re thinking. Maybe she just had a moment and was passing gas.

Something she kept doing was pushing the home button and opening up Chrome. I don’t know what the fuck she was planning to do on the internet but the girl was on a mission. Sometimes she would push the home button too long and prompt Siri, which would then provide suggestions of what you can say to her, and K managed to open ApplePay with her twice. You want to lost phone privileges? Because that’s how you lose phone privileges.

After our adventures with the camera roll, she grabbed my hand and started pulling me off the bench saying room….room… She took me to her room and forced me to sit in a rocking chair and read to her. Forced me! Books. Sit. No, sit. Read. Sit. Read. I asked her to grab her favorite book and she came back with Owl Babies. I asked her Do you like owls? and she said No, babies.

This all went on for some time. We colored. She smushed her head to the hallway floor outside the bathroom saying HI while I was peeing. She found a giant box of pasta from Costco and unpacked/repacked the smaller individually-wrapped bags for me several times.

If you’ve read this far, here’s the punchline: I wish making adult friends was this easy. People may say it is, but I’m here to tell you those people are lying assholes. Adults aren’t placated by one-word conversations or the simplicity of showing appreciation for your new friend with loads of uncooked pasta.

what do you think?

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