So, our son is a very happy, very well adjusted, very verbose two year old...around close friends and family. If he hasn't seen you for more than a week (or ever, if you are a friendly stranger), chances are good that when you say "Hi!" he will tuck his chin or just stare at you with his big, beautiful blue eyes. I have spent the last three MONTHS prodding, poking, and pushing him to say "hi," encouraging him to "not be so shy", excusing him to well meaning adults and kids saying "oh, he's just my shy guy", etc, you get the idea. I never felt comfortable with it, but lately I've really been thinking that I not only don't want to label him as "shy", I don't want him to think there's something wrong with being reserved or introverted; it takes all types of people to make this world, and if the Good Lord gave my son a gift of meekness in the temperament department, who am I to argue? Or make him feel like something's wrong?
Case in point: We took a trek to my favorite place for "Jesus walks" today, Longwood Gardens. I love going here alone, with family, when I need to think, when I need to get away, or in today's case, when I desperately need to get out of the house, into the sun, and surrounded by nature in a balmy 76 degree environment. I've been stuck in the house since Tuesday, thanks to the WORST timed trip to the ER thanks to a stupid-cyst-feigning-as-appendicitis-on-date-night, but ANYWAY - I needed to get out. So get out we did, Korb walked the entire Conservatory by himself (a first!) and we had a great time. Along the way, a polite older gentleman tried to strike up a conversation with him, and he answered as usual, with an aversion and a head tuck. Instead of making a big deal or trying to make him say hi, I just let him be him, and the man said "Oh, he's shy, isn't he?". Not wanting him to feel pressured, I said "He can be sometimes, but it's okay!" and we just kept going. When we were about 15 feet away, Korban said "Sorry mommy. I sorry mommy."
Mom fail. Even with a recent realization that it probably wasn't beneficial to him to call him shy, he'd already gotten the message that he had done something wrong in the interaction. I told him oh no, there's nothing to apologize for, that he's mommy's good boy and if he wants to talk, he can, and if he doesn't want to talk to someone, that's okay too, and it's nothing to apologize for and that it's just the way God made him, and that's perfectly fine, etc etc but man did I feel like a jerk. SO, I called up my best friend, Dr. Google, and found this great article from Dr. Sears that I wish I had found three months ago about how to not be a failure as a parent and make your kid feel shame for his God given, wonderful personality. My new go-to redirection for well meaning folks that call him shy: "He's not shy, he's a good listener", or "He's just very observant", both of which are true. Also, don't hold me to that first one when I call his name ten times and he pretends not to hear me.
Anyway, any stories of your own in how to approach interactions with adults or strangers in a polite way that doesn't leave your more reserved children feeling like weirdos? I'm all ears. Also, I'm still looking for the instruction booklet that didn't come with this kid. Hopefully the next one will come with two.
I finally look pregnant.