Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's Not You...It's Not Her, Either

Dear Family, Friends and Strangers,

You won't be the one to make my little girl smile. She won't shake your hand or give you a high five. She won't giggle at your silly faces or take a lollipop from you. She won't tell you her name or wave bye-bye. Please don't take it personally, that's just the way she is right now.

Yes, she smiles and talks. She sings, plays, laughs uproariously and even cracks jokes. She does all of this when she's with her daddy and me. She does all these things when she knows she's safe and she doesn't feel like she's on display. She's not a performer. She's a little kid. Just let her be the little kid she is. She's quite happy that way and so are we.

Back in the dark ages of child rearing (10-15 years ago), you probably would have called her "shy." You still can, but we don't. We say she's cautious. (The pediatrician suggested that term and we like it.) Our little girl isn't rejecting you, she's just getting to know you before she lets you get too close. Pretty smart, actually. Oh, and the getting to know you part? It can take a long time.

I know it's frustating for you, the grandparents who want to bond with their granddaughter, the strangers who protest, "But kids LOVE me!" It's been frustrating for us, too. I shed a lot of tears over this but I finally figured out that my frustration wasn't helping her, and that's what I really need to do. You can think my child is weird, you can think all you want about my parenting skills, that her "shyness" is all my fault. I don't really care. I know my daughter. I know what makes her feel safe, what makes her feel accepted, and what makes her feel comfortable. I'll take care of all that. Let my little girl be herself.

Here's a novel idea: you be yourself, too. Stop trying so hard to be an instant best friend or favorite grandparent to our little Bug. Relax. Let her figure out where she stands with you. Be yourself. If you're an ok person, she'll let you in and we'll all be happy.

The Mother of the Quiet Kid

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