Childrearing

My Outgoing Child Makes Me Stand Out When All I Want To Do Is Blend In

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kids on bench

I am not what one would call a shy person. I like to talk to people, I make friends easily and I spent years performing in musicals and singing on stage. I enjoy being in those kinds of situations but I do want it to be on my own terms. When I am out and about running errands or chilling out on my front porch, I am usually content to keep to myself and would rather not take center stage. For the last few years, I have not been given a choice in the matter as my son is a very outgoing child and engages people everywhere we go, whether I like it or not.

My son is an absolute riot. He has a great sense of humor. He is smart and sensitive. His personality is very complex for a 5-year old and I try my hardest not to quash any of the unique traits that make him who he is. He is such a great kid. That said, he likes to make us very visible in public and sometimes, I am in no mood.

It is not at all unusual for my son to strike up conversations with complete strangers at the grocery store. We call him The Mayor because he is always trying to win friends and influence people. He will comment on what’s in their cart, tell them about his favorite cereal or start yapping about the birthday party he’s going to next week. Most people are very receptive- he is tiny for his age and has the funniest little munchkin voice. Stopping to chat with him is probably an entertaining diversion in their day but for me, it’s another time where I am just trying to get through a boring errand and I have to stop so my son can engage yet another stranger. He also waves at cars driving by when we play in the front yard, breaks out dancing in public if he hears music he likes or will randomly burst into song knowing people will stop and listen to him. It’s funny most of the time but often, I just want to disappear knowing everyone is looking at us.

I am glad he’s confident. I am glad he thinks what he has to say matters enough to tell anyone passing by. But at the same time, I often go out in my yoga pants with a messy bun in my hair and I am not always in the mood to be noticed and spoken to. It is also mildly embarrassing when I can sense that his chosen target is not in the mood to stop and listen to him. We have had conversations over the last few years that go something like “Buddy, sometimes people don’t have time to stop and chat”. He doesn’t seem to mind if they ignore him so I guess that’s a good thing. As much as it tends to annoy me, I would never want his feelings hurt.

As parents, we have to make adjustments. Our kids are not born with personalities exactly like our own and we need to allow them to be themselves, even if it doesn’t jive with our own comfort level. I just sometimes wish that my son being himself did not include making me share the spotlight with him. For my part, maybe I should start dressing to impress when I go out to buy milk so I don’t feel quite so much like I want to disappear into a puff of smoke. If it makes him happy to be the way he is, I don’t want to be the one who stops him because of my own insecurities.

(Image: karelnoppe/Shutterstock)