Sometimes you say something to an adult off the cuff, and when it doesn’t happen, no one really is disappointed. However, when you casually tell your friend’s six- year-old son that at some point you’ll take him out to “pick up chicks” at a bar, you better back up those words with actions.
I was at home in New Jersey for the holidays and I stayed a few nights at my friend Robert and Sienna’s house in Haddonfield. They have two sons, one of whom is a two-year- old who just started to talk. The other is a six-year-old named Kai who doesn’t know when to stop talking. I had been spending some time hanging around the house with Robert and Kai watching TV, and in addition to the joking around and the tom foolery we would get into, I told Kai that at some point we would go out to the bar one night for happy hour and to see if there were any single ladies we could meet.
I was only half serious with that statement. However, a few days before I left, Robert approached me with some news.
“Kai would be devastated if he doesn’t get a chance to go out to the bar and pick up chicks with you before you leave.”
Throughout the week, Kai proceeded to do uncharacteristically nice things like offering me a Q-tip when he found out my ear was hurting. Also, he didn’t want his parents to come out with us to the bar. I totally understood what I had to do next. I had to go out and try picking up chicks, with a six-year-old.
I never had a big brother or a father growing up, so in the back of my mind I knew I had to figure out a way to make this an educational experience as well as a social experiment. I wish someone had told me when I was younger that sometimes when you meet girls, it doesn’t work out the way you thought, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be friends. Therein lied the goal that I set out to accomplish.
I invited my friend Chrissy out with me that afternoon. I told her ahead of time that my friend’s six-year-old son would be joining us for an hour at the Pour House in Collingswood, and that I was trying to teach him a life lesson at the same time. I was hoping to not disappoint him. I figured, if he showed up and saw me already having a drink with a girl, it would make it seem as if picking up chicks at a bar was definitely possible. We all know that having confidence is a key factor when picking up girls, although I’d be lying if I said I felt that way every time I attempted to do such a thing.
Chrissy and I were sitting on the same side of a bar table when Robert and Kai entered the restaurant. As Kai came around the corner and saw us, his eyes lit up as if he just opened a Kylo Ren lightsaber on Christmas Day. He sat down at our table and his dad gave him $20 for dinner, and told him he’d be back in hour. All of a sudden, there I was with my friend, a vodka and diet coke, and a six-year-old who started asking all these questions.
“Are you guys on a date? Can I have a ginger ale? Did you guys ever make out?” He asked.
A long time ago, Chrissy and I did make out, but we never formally dated so I tried to explain to him that even though we were never an item, we are still good friends who have kept up with each other the last 15 years, and it’s totally ok to do that. I tried to change the subject a little bit and I ask Kai what kind of girl he likes, as I pointed out a cute four-year-old in the booth across from us. Kai took one look at her, and then responded in a totally deadpan tone.
“She’s too young for me.”
I was shocked. Even at my age, 2 years younger is NOT too young for me, but then again perhaps there are some limitations that arise when one of you is six, and the other is only four and isn’t tall enough to ride the ferris wheel. It was at this point that I started to ask Kai if he would prefer an older woman and suggested he talk to the waitress when she comes back around.
“What do you think of the waitress?” I asked
“Well, I like her body, but I don’t really like her head.” he said.
Now, I’m not this kid’s father, but I knew there was some sort of way for me to explain to him that there is a nicer way of saying that. I told him that perhaps a less offensive way to exclaim that he was not attracted to her would be to just say, “She’s not my type.” After all, I had gotten myself into this situation, and for some reason I felt like it was my responsibility to teach him NOT to be a douchebag when he grows up. Hopefully, this was a step in the right direction.
We talked for a little bit more about the type of girls he likes, and then I decided to put him on the spot when the waitress came back.
“Kai, don’t you have anything to say to her?” I asked
“I’m trying to teach him how to pick up chicks.” I said.
The waitress smiled, and looked over at Kai, and I thought he would have appreciated the set-up, but then something unexpected happened. Kai started to fill up with tears and almost cry at the table during happy hour.
After the waitress left, I asked him what was the matter, and in between him hiding in his hood, and trying to spit ginger ale at me, he told me that what I said embarrassed him and that he was upset. I never thought of it from his six-year-old perspective, because if I were to say the same thing to any of my adult guy friends out at the bar, it would just be a classic case of busting balls. However, six-year-olds don’t laugh off embarrassment. Instead, they get mad and agitated and try to throw a plastic cup of soda at you.
I immediately tried to get him to stop being upset by doing the one thing I know people want to hear when their feelings are hurt.
“I’m sorry buddy. I didn’t mean to embarrass you, and I apologize.”
That’s pretty much all it took. He eventually calmed down a little bit and ate the other half of his cheeseburger and within fifteen minutes his Mom showed up to get him. When she came to pick him up, he didn’t immediately want to leave, but I told him I would see him back at his place later on that day and then I told him that this little story might become an article I write so I asked if he would pose with me for a few pictures.
Later that night I was sitting and talking with Robert and I told him what had happened at the bar. He was astonished that when Kai got upset and embarrassed at the waitress comment, he didn’t throw a tantrum and start crying and freaking out. Apparently, Kai has a reputation for being a little bit cranky and throwing a fit when things don’t work out the way he wants them too. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like me when I was a kid.
I’ll always remember the time when I said something off the cuff to a six-year-old, unaware of the fact that he remembered what I said, and then expected it to happen. I couldn’t disappoint him, so I had to follow through with taking him to the bar, even though in reality I knew we weren’t really going to meet any girls. That’s not the point.
The point is, although I tried to teach him a lesson in life, it turns out he taught me one too. In a childlike and innocent way, he held me accountable for the words I said out loud to him. I think I needed to be reminded of that.
Being a person who follows through with what they say is a quality I possess and I look for in other people. It’s a shame that some people in this world lack that standard. I feel we as adults could all benefit from saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. Perhaps we should call each other out on our bullshit, make each other follow through with our words, and try to act a bit more like a six-year-old.