Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Remember that one time I said I'm sorry? Yeah, I take it back.

I was labeled as "shy" when I was growing up.  I hated it.  From time to time I still find myself using this term to describe myself and funny enough, I still hate it.

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 


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 focused,

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. 


Kristen said...

I like to just watch Jacek "being shy" sometimes you just have to wonder what he is thinking and other times if you wait long enough he will in fact tell you what he was thinking...and boy oh boy, most times, it's not even close to what you thought he was thinking!! lol...very intuitive! :)

Holyoke Home said...

Good for you! What a wonderful example of excellent parenting. Stopping by from SITS. And I didn't mind this post's 'seriousness' AT ALL!

Melissa said...

I would describe myself as shy... I am definitely an introvert. There are some shy aspects of Hayden; however, he can also be very boisterous and outgoing. He is multi-faceted in that way.

and it's very important to think positively about yourself (and your child). I always felt weird and different (and not in a good way). I was surrounded by extroverts and it led me to feel that something was wrong with me. People didn't understant my introvertedness... Ive only come to really embrace the label in the past few years.

Melissa said...

Oh... and nice post!

Nezzy said...

Take it from a shy Ozarks farm chick who has come into her own, out of her shell totally. Sweetie, your gonna have to praise this little guy out the wazoo and build his little self up. We really do label children and they will become what they are labeled.

You have a wonderful blessed day from the hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa!!!

(popped over from Mrs. 4444's) :o)

Crystal said...

You and I are a lot a like and so are our children. I have been in this same situation with my daughter and I have embarrassed her before by trying to push her into it and then cry all the way home myself for knowing that I did it without really meaning too. THanks for this post - it really helps.

Shell said...

I love the way that shy is described in this post.

I was always labeled shy when I was growing up and I hated it.

But, if someone had described me like that, I would have thought differently about it.

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

What a timely post-- I have found myself "apologizing" for my G being so shy around new people while her other toddler friends get so bubbly. But I don't have to apologize-- she is who she is, and that's why I love her!

Confessions From A Working Mom

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

All of our family is shy at first and then really outgoing. I do hate it when my kids get called "shy" from others when out in public like it is a bad thing.

That was a great post!

Danielle said...

My son is 17 years old and is still shy. I know that to most people he comes off as rude, but he really is just shy. He's a great kid, athletic and smart. He's just shy....(complete opposite of me!!! - go figure!)

adrienne said...

I like all kinds of kids, but I always enjoy watching the ones who are really listening and thinking hard during storytime. Takes all types and all that.

Holly said...

I can so relate to this. I was always a shy child, and am definitely an introvert. I still do not like to make the first move to meet someone and tend to hang back in situations involving more than just a few people.

My oldest son, especially, is very like me. I must have read the same thing as you, because I remember when he was little specifically avoiding labeling him as "shy", lest he get the idea that it was a bad thing.

As he got older (he's 12) I did try to encourage him that it's okay to feel the way he does, but he does need to learn to be polite. For example, when someone introduces himself or says hi, you politely and confidently respond. He's getting better at that kind of thing, but will always be an introvert. And he's a deep thinker, too!