I get that not everyone’s a people person, and even less people are a kids person. It’s fine. Not everyone knows how to relate in social settings with children. Sometimes it’s because you don’t have a child, sometimes it’s because your children are all grown up and these new kids are different, and sometimes it’s because you’re weird. Whatever the case may be, I’m cool with non-kids people, so long as they aren’t mean spirited about it. It’s one thing to not know how to interact with kids. It’s another thing to get all riled up when kids act like kids and start yelling at them.
Whatever type of non-kid person you are – the awkward or the mean – you’re bound to leave an impression on that kid for the rest of his life if you do have a chance interaction with him. I’m 29, and I still instinctively cringe at the mention of some people’s names, because I still see them as that person who yelled at me. Those people have left an imprint on my life. Some of them were my Sunday school teachers, and they’ve left a permanent imprint on my ministry, because I consciously choose to be nothing like them.
But not every interaction with a non-kid person was bad. Sure, they may have been uncomfortable, but some guys were just trying to be nice. One guy in particular was just trying to relate to a couple of new kids sitting in the back with their parents. He was an usher at our church, and he did his best to reach out to us. And I remember it well.
We were sitting there, and it came time to shake hands with those around you (a staple church tradition that has always been off-putting to me). This man came over, shook hands with my parents, and then moved down the line to shake hands with me and Dan. He then asked, as he pulled his tie out away from his chest to give us a better view, “Do you like my tie? It’s baseball.” Of course it was baseball, and the answer was still no. It was one of those ugly burgundy ties with strange vintage looking sports designs on it. But it was funny. It seemed like a strange thing to say, and it still sounds clunky to me when I repeat it. Neither of us answered. We just stared at him, because we knew better than to laugh at him then. So he moved on.
I think of him whenever someone asks if I like their tie, though. If you were to call me on the phone or text me and ask me if I like your tie, I’d smile and respond, “It’s baseball,” and I would genuinely find it funny, even if you don’t know what I’m talking about. If you texted or called my brother Dan and asked the same question, you’d get the same answer.
The guy wasn’t a kid person. If I remember correctly, he and his wife didn’t have a kid for at least another 5 years. He had no experience, and he was kind of weird. But I remember him fondly, because he didn’t let his being uncomfortable with us push him to being rude to us. So be a non-kid person if you must, but be remembered for the right reason.