Greeting with Gusto

With my daughter out of town, I find I’m meeting a lot less people. Billy and I have laughed about how going to the grocery store with that child has become an almost exhausting social outing.

She may be speaking a tad more English than Spanish, but when it comes to social skills, she is 100% Guatemalan.

One of my favorite observations about cross-cultural marriage has been around meeting and greeting people. In fact, just this week I was leaving a gathering and felt uncomfortable because I had not said good-bye to someone I met earlier. My friends were ready to go and assured me it was okay to leave without following up, but I felt almost paralyzed. My husband trained me to say good-bye!

But Gabriella has jumped right on the welcoming bandwagon, and I am grateful to witness her friendly nature. Still, her need to wave and shout “hi” to every passer-by can be a bit awkward for me as a parent.

When they look up, do I need to also greet them? How long do I stand there holding her if they proceed to carry on a one-sided conversation with my baby? Is saying “hello” and smiling enough or do I need to say something, too?

The greater challenge, though, is what to do when people don’t acknowledge her in any way. As she becomes more agitated (and loud) in her greeting, how do I respond? I completely understand if someone doesn’t want to talk to a baby, but on the other hand… hey, my kid is talking to you.

I typically resort to whispering, “I don’t think they heard you. That’s okay.” And I try to strongly imply to her to “let it go.” Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. When we would be stuffed into the crowded subways in Argentina, Gabriella would literally reach out and touch strangers who were ignoring her.

Her aggressive greetings often make me think about this scene from Fun with Dick and Jane. Jim Carrey works at the front door of a “KostMart” and chases down a customer who evades his friendly welcome.

How are you at greeting strangers… or even friends? How do you interact with babies in public?

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