The other day while dropping Jacek off at school we stood outside his classroom while he watched the other kids monkeying around and being loud. His teacher turned to him and asked if he'd like to meet one of his classmates brothers. Jacek recoiled. He put his fingers to his mouth, a sure sign that he's uncomfortable, and he looked up at me with questioning eyes. I understood exactly how he felt and I could see he really didn't want to meet his classmates brother but he also didn't want to be rude.
He didn't know what to say.
I, his mother and protector opened my big dumb mouth and said
"Sorry, he's my shy guy."
The moment it was out of my mouth I cringed.
The teacher and the other moms nodded as if to say they understood but my mothers heart began to sob. I wanted to slap myself across the face.
I had stood there and apologized for my child's personality.
Driving home I started thinking about what I had said, the meaning behind it, and the feelings behind it. I came home and googled shyness. I looked for articles on whether or not scientists and doctors thought people were born shy. I wanted to see if possibly it's something I had passed on to my own child. I looked into introverts and quiet as a personality trait.
Dr.Sears helped me. I found this article titled
8 Way To Help The Shy Child.
Here's what I took away from it.
Shyness is a personality trait not a fault.
It is not a negative thing unless we, as parents, make it so.
People that have this trait tend to be attentive listeners, private people who exude a welcome presence even without saying a word.
I should never apologize for Jacek being shy because he will hear me and begin to think something is wrong with him.
He is a deep thinker and he is very cautious. I would never in a million years be ashamed to say that my child is a deep thinker, a feeler, and cautious of who he puts his energy into.
I would never apologize for these things, for these amazing qualities that make me so proud.
It is difficult for me, as a parent, to have a child who is quiet when all the other kids are running around, screaming, playing and making a ruckus because it reminds me of my difficult childhood.
I want him to fit in because I felt I never did.
I want him to enjoy his childhood because looking back I remember feeling scared a lot.
In a loud room filled with kids Jacek will stand back near me and watch.
He'll ask me questions about his observations when he's back home later, in our home, where he feels safe.
He'll watch the other kids doing the skit head and shoulders at story time but he chooses not to join in. He will however put on a show for me once we're back home.
I make sure to praise him a million times over.
What's more important to me then him fitting in or being accepted or being well liked is that
HE FEELS COMFORTABLE WITH WHO HE IS.
The article states that shy people normally have such inner peace that the quietness is their way to protect it.
This speaks volumes to me because this is how I feel about myself.
Once Jacek warms up he's simply charming but if you rush him he'll retreat further.
He's an amazing conversationalist at the young age of 4. He'll engage you once he's comfortable and if you're quiet enough to listen you'll be pleasantly surprised at how you lose yourself in the conversation.
I need to change the way this trait makes me behave. When it's brought to my attention by a family member, another parent, or a teacher, I feel a need to explain it away. Like it's something he does on purpose rather then it being a natural part of who he is.
I label him shy.
This is very unfair of me. I am his mother. I am his faithful fan and here I am labeling him for being nothing other then himself.
My son is a "sensitive, deeply caring, reserved child who is slow to warm up to strangers, approaches social relationships cautiously, but who is a very happy little boy".
Now, that's a "label" I'll happily and proudly slap on his shirt.
He brings a quiet peace to the story time circle.
He sees the moment before he takes part in it.
He is reserved.
and quiet (until he warms up).
He is simply being himself
I will never, ever again apologize for these simply amazing and wonderful traits that he possesses.
Never. Ever. Ever.