Friday, February 7, 2014

Just when you have them figured out...

Recently we’ve been getting compliments on my son’s vocabulary.  This is a new development in the past six months.  Before that, we got questions about why he hated strangers, why he would refuse to speak with people he knew, and why he wouldn’t hug Great-Grandma.  Poor dear Great-Grandma wanted to hold my mammoth boy on her lap like he was still a baby.  Adorable?  Absolutely.  But this was not to be tolerated by the boy.  But my family likes to touch and hug everyone, so by comparison he seemed positively cold.  This prompted many discussions that unfolded a bit like:

Great-Grandma: "Well, if he had been able to grow up closer to us, he'd know better."

Me (feeling guilty for being 10 hours away): "Just go hug your Great-Grandma, it's kind."

My kid (hesitant): "But mama, I don't want to, I don't KNOW her."

Me (with growing impatience): "You've met a million times, just go hug her.  Look at my face.  I'm serious."

My kid (adamant): "No, I don't WANT to!!"

Great-Grandma: "Sigh."

Great-Grandpa: "You know my kids did whatever I told them to do..."
Me: "Oh, for the LOVE of PETER, PAUL, and MARY!!!!"

He was my anti-social little guy.  I would see other children frolicking about the playground inviting each other to play, and spinning tales of co-invented worlds.  My little man would sulk because he didn’t want to meet new children; he only wanted to play with people he already knew.  I saw my husband’s genes at work here…  But I suspect he would remind me of:

  1. my freshman year of college.  I forlornly sat around instant messaging my high school friends instead of meeting new people.
  2. the first year we lived in Minnesota.  We had just gotten married and whenever he asked me what I wanted to do (mind you, we lived in the Twin Cities – options!) and all I would say is, “I want to hang out with my best friends from college.”
  3. and the first year we lived here.  I didn’t want to meet new people because I already had amazing friends from the Twin Cities and I was depressed that they couldn’t support me when I had the baby.

So, poor kid, I sympathize, okay?!  I’m not great at making friends either!

Recently, he’s become more comfortable interacting with others.  Some family members are saying, “Oh he’s finally becoming himself” or “coming out of his shell.”  I’m pretty sure that curmudgeon part of his personality is still in there and I don’t judge him for it.  It’s all too familiar!  I don’t want to be snuggled by people I see a few times a year either!  But holey bucket, life is easier with a child who is less afraid of others.
The other day he was getting a haircut and he didn’t need me to be in the same room with him. This is a first! 

Stylist: “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” 

Six months ago he might have grunted and scowled.  But this time he replied: “Well, if you ask anyone at school they’ll tell you that I don’t have any brothers or sisters.  But, (He begins to whisper) actually I do!  I have a brother named Picky that spends most of his time being invisible.  He lives in my own world.  Did you know I’m the ruler of my own world?  I’m the ruler there, and I speak the language of my own world!”

Stylist: “Oh, really!  Awesome!  What does that language sound like?”

My kid: “Well…I can’t really tell you because it is unusual, and I can only talk like that when I’m facing my own world.  And right now I’m facing you!”

I’m thoroughly charmed.  And, I’m reminded of two things.  I loved him just as much when he was less social and didn’t  want to hug even his parents.  And, just as soon as we think when know our kids, they grow a little and change on us. I try not to think too much about who he "could" be or "should" be.  I do my best to love who he is in this moment.  (But please, oh please, let me keep this moment, it was so much better than the last one!)


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