That sound you hear? It's my heart breaking.

on 20 August 2009


The Boy and I had our first somewhat social outing this morning. I've been trying to figure out why I feel so weird. And I think I've hit upon it.

It was fairly routine, some ladies from church (myself included) were getting together to make up a bunch of casseroles to freeze. (So that in the event of a birth, death or illness we would have at least one ready meal to take to someone in need.) The woman hosting it, she's cool, and she has a little boy roughly the same age as the Boy. So we were both invited. I got to hang out with some really nice women and try to get to know them better and the Boy would get in some play time with at least one child his own age.

We arrived, I set him down on the floor not too far from where I was, hoping that if he could see me he wouldn't freak out. And he didn't. He was his very cautious self, he was captivated by watching the Jack and after 10 minutes or so he warmed up enough to cautiously approach the toys.

I was making awkward small talk and feeling very strange. And berating myself internally for being so awkward. Seriously, why am I so weird?


I was still watching the Boy, trying to keep him in my periphery to make sure he didn't trash the place or hurt himself or the Jack. And I couldn't figure out what was bugging me. Not while I was watching him. Not while I made a somewhat early exit. Not on the way home. Not this afternoon while I paced the apartment, unable to settle.

I was cleaning up the kitchen and watching him...again...still, whatever you choose. And I think I figured it out.

He's like me.

Uncertain, unsure, unused to other people. Introverted, shy, awkward. All of the things I had hoped he wouldn't be. Or at least have to a lesser degree than I do.

I was watching him try to play with the Jack and not really knowing how to do so. He would sit back and watch the Jack play but when it came to playing together he would back away, look for me, and cry.

And yes, I comfort myself by reminding myself that he doesn't really know how. Maybe playing with others is a skill, not an instinct and since he's never really played with many other children his own age, he just doesn't know how. But then...

I'm an adult and I still don't know how to play with people my own age. And I've been practicing this a long time, people, and I'm still completely awkward and uncomfortable and unnatural and uneasy. How many years does it take?

You know how it is. You don't want your kid to have to suffer what you did. I don't want him to be the odd man out, the last one picked, the one picked on, teased, harassed and humiliated. I don't want him left out, left behind or forgotten. I want the world to love him, to see him, to hear him, to include him.

For he is grand.


Emily said...

My dear friend, he is grand because you are!!

I miss you...

Rae said...

So, I feel your pain. As good as I am at superficial relating, to establish a true friendship is tricky for me. Something happened just today that really solidified that point for me, and I'm pouting and smarting over it quite a bit, actually.

Enough about me. One thing that may give some comfort is that at his again, even up to three, I think, 'periphery play' is much more common. Kids are still learning how to play with eachother, and they're more likely just to play around eachother.

And if he's like you? So what, I think you're pretty great!

Sweet Sister said...

Okay you book learner you - it is absolutely time to read The Introvert Advantage!! It is hands down the best book on being an introvert, making peace with who God made you and learning how to cope in a world that is 75% extroverts. My sweet husband taught me to value my 4 beautiful introverts and simply teach them coping skills for the people part. Here's to introverts the world over - six of whom live in my house!!!!

Robbie said...

Actually, you are completely wrong, dear. Not only was he displaying normal, healthy behavior, but your child actually just showed an extraordinarily clear sign of secure attachment to you, which is an important precursor to social competence in later life. What you saw was a boy comfortable enough to be out of direct contact with you in a strange room full of strangers, to watch a strange child, and then, ultimately, to engage his new and unfamiliar surroundings. Had he actually just hit the ground and gone strait to the toys and not cared about what others were doing around him then that would actually be a potential sign that he was ambivalent toward other people, which itself would suggest a developmental problem at his age.

Bird said...

I find that sometimes I'm pained when I realize that Fussbot is like me because I want him to be better than me (I'm not expressing it well, but each time I write the sentence a different way, it still doesn't capture it entirely.) I want him to have an easier time making friends, to be able to walk into a room and feel comfortable enough to jump right into conversation, to be confident and easygoing.

But even if we could spare our all the socially akward moments in life we wouldn't be doing them a favor, those moments are how you understand people and how you learn about yourself.

Of course the Boy is grand- look who his mother is. You'll teach him how to play with others, and he'll learn on his own and he'll be the kid every one wants to have over. You'll see.