My Five Year Old Has a Friend Obsession! July 16

I’m a parent and I have a confession. I admit that my 5-year-old daughter loves to follow friends. This friend obsession has been going on for a few years now ever since Olivia found out she had kids her same age living in the neighborhood.

She’s not very secretive in her approach. She basically goes to her friend’s house, and rings the doorbell. If no one answers, she sits by the fence and waits to see a glimpse of her little friend.

“Olivia, I don’t think anyone’s home,” I’d say.

“Yes, her is!” (This was a common phrase Olivia said when she was three or four. Her grammar has improved in her old age. lol)

I guess it’s a good thing that Olivia isn’t shy and makes friends easily. Olivia will start kindergarten this fall, and I don’t expect any problems from her socially (except maybe talking to friends too much). I, on the other hand, was very shy growing up.

I attended a country school from kindergarten through eighth grade. When I started school, my mom had to walk me to my room. I wouldn’t ask questions…instead I’d have my friends ask the teacher for me. And then in high school, I had trouble talking to other kids in my class. Sure, I talked all the time at home, but when outside of my comfort zone, my mouth just wouldn’t open.

I didn’t really come out of my shell until college. I remember Jon saying “hi” to me in the Westbrook music building at UNL. All I could muster was a weak “hi” back and I walked swiftly away. Needless to say, Jon thought I was stuck up (a common stamp on many shy people) because I wouldn’t talk. Nope. It was just that terrible shyness. Thankfully, majoring in broadcasting helped me overcome that.

So, now when I look at Olivia, I am glad she’s a social butterfly. I just hope she doesn't flutter away too much.

We once lost her at the opening ceremonies of the Cornhusker State Games. She was probably around three and was standing next to Jon at the end of the night. Jon looked up at the fireworks for just an instant, and when he looked down, Olivia was gone. We both panicked. The crowd at Seacrest Field was filing out of the stands and onto the field. I ran to a police officer. “I can’t find my little girl!”

Seconds felt like hours. Just then, a spectator approached Jon from the stands. He asked Jon what was wrong and Jon told him he couldn’t find his daughter. When asked what she looked like, Jon was blank. All he could say was denim shorts.

“Is that her?” he pointed down the sidelines. Sure enough, there was Olivia. Blond curly hair bouncing as she ran…chasing new friends. Thank God for the eyes of that spectator. Jon gave him a hug.

That was probably one of the scariest moments of our lives. And I’ve talked to many parents who’ve been there. From that moment on, Jon and I try to always keep tabs on our social butterfly. How do you teach kids to be friendly, to stay by your side, yet avoid the dangers of strangers?

Let’s chat. Maybe you have a similar little friend fanatic at your home.

Taryn

About the Author...
Taryn Vanderford
Taryn Vanderford is an Emmy-winning journalist who currently works on "First at Four", "Pure Nebraska" and "Moms Everyday" for 10/11 and Gray Television.

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