My youngest, Gracie is a little shy. Unlike her big sister, Ella who will talk to any stranger who sends a smile her way (a good but worrisome trait for this Mama,) Gracie is a bit more hesitant to say hello. Or give high fives. Or talk to people other than those with whom she spends most of her days.

But my little girl is growing up. This summer she turns 4 and this fall she will start pre-school. Very soon she must pack away her shy-ness and spend several hours each day with new people.

I’m a little concerned.

But then her teacher told me that some of the mom’s with other girls in Gracie’s class had been talking about getting together with the kids. I thought it would be a good chance for my girl to meet some of the other children in her class. Gracie was up for the adventure – although she admitted to me that it might be a “little bit scary.”

I felt the same way. 

I don’t do play dates. As in, I’ve never done play dates. Never. Not once. 

I don’t have anything against them. I think play dates are likely a wonderful way to get a bit of adult interaction while letting kids have a chance to run and play. But much like my Gracie – I’m a bit shy – especially when I have to start small talk with a group of strangers. 

Yes, I spent several years in the TV biz and yes, I talk to all you wonderful strangers on a weekly basis. But in those situations you don’t talk back. There’s no fear of making small talk – no concern of that awkward silence – or worse, me saying something ridiculous.

Yes, that happens more often than it should. 

Maybe you know what I’m talking about? Maybe you’ve been there too? It’s why – as a kid, I hid under my bed or in my closet when someone knocked on the door. It’s why today – I usually turn down opportunities to speak in front of large groups of people. 

It’s just easier to avoid those situations.

But I decided to do it anyway – for my daughter. It would be an adventure for the both of us.

I was late to our first play date, mostly because I couldn’t decide what to wear. Should I go casual with shorts and a tank – or be one of those moms who dress up for the park?

You know I chose casual. Thankfully, I did leave the sweats at home.

It started out like a really bad blind date, or what I’d imagine one of those to be like. Thankfully, when Gracie and I arrived at the park – one of the moms called us out. 

“Is that you, Leslie?”  she asked from across the way.

I’d never been so thankful to hear my name. 

Gracie and I made our way over to the splash area. It didn’t take long for small talk to begin. Then there was a bit of laughter– followed by small smiles, then bigger smiles. Finally, actual conversations began. Real friendships were forming.

The kids didn’t do so badly either.

The end of our play date came faster than expected. We both enjoyed our time meeting new friends and taking a brave adventure into an unfamiliar situation. It was a great afternoon – and as Gracie reminded me as we left the park – only “a little bit scary.” 

 I’m learning – the best things in life always are. 

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Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.