I took Evan to the park Sunday afternoon. It was a fall day fit for the movie screen, cool and breezy and full of color, with footballs flying and a playground overrun by noisy, breathless children. A number of them were involved in a group game, calling each other by name as they scrambled over the slide/climbing structure. As I pushed Evan on the swing, he watched them thoughtfully, then turned to me and quietly stated, "They know each other."
Now, you have to understand, Evan is my extrovert. He wants to know EVERYONE. Nothing makes him happier than to be around people, many people, especially children. That's not to say he doesn't sometimes feel a little shy. But the shyness does not detract from his enjoyment of social contact. He needs it in a way that the rest of his family does not.
So, back to the conversation.
Evan: "They know each other."
Me: "Yes, I think they do."
Evan: "They don't know me."
Me: "No, honey, they don't know you."
Evan, soaking this in, brow furrowing ever so slightly: "Why does God make it so people don't know each other?"
Ohhh-kaaay. How to answer this one?
"Evan, it's not that God makes people not to know each other, but that He just makes so many people! There are too many people in the world for us to know them all. We could never learn all their names! But you know lots of people. You have friends at gym class, and Sunday School, and church. Those are the people you know. They are YOUR friends."
It's times like this I feel sorry for my youngest in that he doesn't have a playmate in the house. There are eight years between him and his big sister, eleven between him and his big brother. My oldest two children had each other to play with; Evan is often on his own. And there aren't children in the neighborhood that he can play with. We arrange play dates as we are able, but it's difficult to carve out the time and coordinate with other parents. Sometimes when we go to a playground or similar place Evan will buddy up with someone for just that short period of time. He considers these temporary playmates to be friends and has been known to cry over not seeing some of them again. He still thinks about and misses several children in last year's preschool class who left the class early in the year. Much more than my other two children, he needs people. But more and more I think that I could have an endless supply of playmates lined up, one for every day of the year, and it would still not be enough, because there would still be people in the world Evan doesn't know. And his need for connectedness is so profound, he would still feel deprived. I'm not sure if they have a personality test with a scale broad enough to measure this child's extroversion. And here he finds himself growing up in a house full of introverts. Somehow, though, I have a feeling the rest of us are going to be doing some "growing" of our own over the next few years.