Shy, Introverted, and Very Stubborn #momlife
I want to, but I won’t.
In the past year, I’ve learned that Sean is a shy introvert with a stubborn streak a mile wide. What does that look like? Well, he doesn’t talk to strangers (yay!), he doesn’t always talk to people he knows, he doesn’t like to try new things by himself, and you can’t force him to do anything.
Pre-school was difficult. He didn’t want to dance or sing. He hated being the center of attention during his birthday or during class presentations. The holiday programs were painful for him – he sobbed during the Halloween show, glared during the Thanksgiving program, and stood, unmoving, during the Christmas pageant.
The first few months, I was baffled. I knew he was a little shy, but this seemed extreme.
It took me a minute, but I figured it out.
We’d made a big move from a home he knew to one he didn’t. He wasn’t in his old daycare anymore or at home with me. This was a new school with new people. One he only attended for three hours a day, instead of the 10 hours a day he’d been in daycare. He was being asked to do new things that he was unsure of.
I think everything moved too fast for him.
And there I was, pushing him.
I admit part of it was a fear of my kid not being “normal.” During every school program, I scoured the group, desperate to find someone else refusing to sing or dance, frowning at the entire audience, and frozen in place. I failed every time.
Eventually I stopped pushing. I began encouraging instead, while leaving the decision to join in or attend events up to him. I’m no dummy, though. I took tactics I’d been using for Aidan (the worrier who needs to know everything in advance, preferably on a form in triplicate so he can refer back it later) and repurposed them.
When the end-of-year field trip came around, we talked about it for three weeks. I found out who he would sit with as soon as I could so he could get used to the idea. I gave him every detail I could so he had time to process the information.
He was nervous, but he went. “It was the best day ever, Mommy!”
Now that school is out, both boys are in the local Boys and Girls Club summer program. I love, love, love Boys and Girls Club for so many reasons.
But I also knew Sean was going to hate starting something new and learning new people.
We began talking about it a month before the program started. I may or may not have given Aidan dirty looks every time he said he didn’t want to go. We were going to be positive about this, for Sean, if it killed us.
I talked to the director and let her know about Sean, to prepare her that not only would he remain silent for a while, he wouldn’t be coerced into anything, not even by an adult. You can get mad about it or you can work with it. I needed her to work with us.
She took it in stride, said she’d come across shy kids before. Of course, two weeks into the program she admitted she’d never seen anyone like Sean before. Nope, you haven’t.
Some kids can be pressured into being sociable. Not Sean. He will say “Thank you” on command, but he’s not saying hello, goodbye, his age, or his name unless he damn well feels like it. And to the nice cashier at Publix, you’ll have to get over it. He’s not speaking to you, not even for a lollipop.
Every week, the kids go on a field trip. For the first three weeks, Sean refused. Finally, finally, a field trip came around that he couldn’t resist, Paradise Pizza – think of it as a generic version of Chuck E. Cheese.
I’ve learned not to pressure him about these things. But both Aidan (who’s figured out what’s up) and I asked him if he was considering it.
“I don’t know yet. But please stop asking me. If you ask me again, I think I’ll say no.”
My jaw dropped, then I stifled a giggle. He wasn’t rude, just matter of fact. Without meaning to, we were pressuring him, and he didn’t appreciate it.
As I did every week at drop off, I explained he may or may not go on the trip. If he did, he had my blessing. He was the only kid at the club who hadn’t received his Boys and Girls Club T-shirt (to wear on fieldtrips). I knew the sign of whether he’d attended or not would be that shirt. Every week, I’d been disappointed.
Not this week.
He ran up to me in a green shirt big enough to be a dress (all he needed was a sparkly belt and heels, y’all) covered in his lunch.
Not only had he gone, but he’d shown them how much he can eat – 2 pieces of pizza and 4 plates of spaghetti. “It was the best day ever, Mom!”
“Will you go on next week’s field trip?” I try not to let my hope show too much in these moments.
When it comes to Sean trying new things and expanding his horizons a bit, I’ll take what I can get. Small victories.