Fast forward to her two year old birthday party, where I excitedly watch her open her red glitter shoes, loving her reaction as she squeals in glee. My sister in law bursting into laughter, saying " I can't believe you of all people bought those for her!"
Fast forward again to age five, where it becomes abundantly apparent that shyness starts to dominate my formerly outgoing child. Having kids in our house touching her things stresses her out. I become less likely to invite people in. She prefers playing alone, "talking" to her groovy girl dolls. She loves when we put on the princess music, dressing up and "performing" for us in the living room. I love it too, but feel guilty because I feel trapped as well. (and not just because if I hear “ A Whole New World” one more time I might scream) Our family becomes more isolated, adapting to her various anxieties, mainly having family and cousins over often, but no friends without quite a bit of advance planning. Introverts need down time to rejuvenate. However I’m an extrovert and need people time for my juices to start flowing. The differences between us seem insurmountable. It becomes a real learning experience to try to nurture this type of child.
Our one attempt at soccer produced a fabulous picture with her best friend that I still love. Of course her complete disinterest in getting jostled by others and kicking a ball kind of made that endeavor short lived. Gymnastics dominated her life from age two to twelve, with brightly colored leotards, surrounded by female energy and lots of girl drama. My friends have always been male, so learning how to adapt in that world became an ongoing challenge for me as well. On the plus side I never had to bring sunscreen to any of her events, and was not jealous at all of those soccer parents out there suffering through all kinds of weather and losing all their weekends.
Eventually, homework and hormones pushed gymnastics aside. The shyness has enabled my now thirteen year old to mainly avoid the “popular group” dynamics at middle school. She has several really solid amazing friends who have been her friends since first grade and stick with her through thick and thin.
The lesson for today – set all expectations aside when parenting. You think you are raising them, but in fact they are teaching you all those lessons you might not have learned as a child.