Everybody needs an Abby.
My life came with one. I met her before we were born, though I don’t remember it.
What I do remember is her talking to new people – kids we didn’t know – kids that weren’t in our family. She would just walk up to them and start talking, and before you know it, they were friends.
Where was I in this picture? I was behind her, a little to the side (so I had a good view). And sometimes I was walking the roots around a big tree. Looking up occasionally to watch the process. But mostly I was behind her.
And I knew when to make my move. She would be involved in a game of tag or seeing who can swing the highest and I would slink in somehow. Someone might ask who I was, and Abby would say, that’s my sister.
And before you know it, I was a part of the group.
I wish every introvert had an Abby.
My mom recognized this tendency in me and made sure we had separate classes when we were in elementary school. Unfortunately for Abby, when we moved to Alabama it was a smaller school with only two groups per grade – “Advanced” and “Regular.” My guess is they looked at me in my skirt sitting quietly, and they looked at Abby, in her tomboy clothes all rumpled, and they put me in Advanced and her in Regular, even though she was the better reader. Oh well. Sorry about that Abs, guess you took one for the team! That really was unfair, though. Why didn’t they just give us a reading test?
Mom’s strategy worked, though. I did learn to make friends by myself. And as I’ve gotten older and had children to help me get over myself even more, I can enter new groups with much less agony. I still like to do it gently, though. Sorting out who is kind and who is unkind, safely from behind a tree if I could!
Now that my kids are mostly grown I could easily regress and spend the entire day walking the roots of my own interests, never stepping out…. But then I get a pull. I see things that look fun. Or I remember people who are going through hard things right now. And I get pulled outside of myself. It is so good for me to get pulled outside of myself.
Anyway, thanks Abby, for opening those doors. Even as I observe your life now – rarely a day or night without several activities, I am amazed by your energy and desire to be out there “on the playground.” But that is you and I am me, and I’m grateful for you being you and me being me. And I’m grateful that we are we. I’m a better me for us being we.
And if I may depart from the Suessical way this is going. I am a better person because of EACH family member I have. My little sister is a true sister-mom for me. She gets all the mom angst I go through, and she comforts me with her compassion and her dry wit and “life is hard and then you die.” That consistently cheers me up! (We’re ecclesiastically weird like that.) And my brothers! and my parents! and my children! and my cousins! And my friends, dear dear hearts! Okay, this is sounding like a Academy Awards speech.
My point is: People like me need people like you. That’s not a bad thing.
And to think I could have said all that in twelve words. Oh well.