My son thinks everyone is his friend. Everyone (and thing) from cartoon characters, strangers in a store, even bugs. He never asks, “Who is this?” It’s always, “Who is this friend?”
When he’s out in public, he says “hi” to every person he passes. He’s the kid that plops down next to a random person in a waiting room and introduces himself. He believes every little girl in a dress is a princess and addresses them as such.
My son thinks everyone is his friend, even though he doesn’t have any. After my husband enlisted in the Navy, we moved 1,100 miles away from our friends and family. Before the move, my only mom friend was his sole form of socialization with kids his age.
Since I don’t know anyone with children where we’re stationed, I took him to the playground. I can’t count the number of times between the ages of two and nearly four that my little boy ran up to another child to try to play. I also can’t count the number of times those kids walked away, ignored, or were just plain mean to him. It’s heartbreaking to see your child being the kid no one wants to play with.
It doesn’t help that my son is big for his age. He towers over children his own age and is not on the same developmental level of kids his size. He just doesn’t quite fit in, despite his warm personality.
Eventually, our trips to the playground dwindled. I couldn’t bear to see my son being rejected time and time again, to be the kid pushed out and playing by himself while everyone else was grouped together, having fun. He stopped approaching the other kids, started accepting his fate as the outsider, so we stopped going.
Despite his lack of luck finding playmates, outside of the playground, he thinks everyone is his friend. He is friendly. He is resilient, hopeful. I pray someday my son is the one that welcomes the new kid or the one that doesn’t quite fit in. I hope he is the reason there’s not a child left out.
My son may not have friends, but he is everyone’s friend.