Sunday was “Family Day” at church [as well as Pentecost]. So I got to go to Sunday School with Keaton, Skyler and Spencer. Since Skyler & Spencer are about to graduate from preschool and enter elementary school they were invited to attend the regular Sunday School rotation (rather then their preschool room). I thought they would be excited to do what the big kids do, especially since that’s where Keaton goes. And Skyler was excited. But Spencer freaked. He didn’t want to leave his preschool room. Then when I got him to the room where the big kids meet [where they sing songs, pray and do offering before breaking up in to their groups] he did not want to go in to the room. I was going with him, but he was having no part of it. I had to drag him down the stairs and in to the room. Then I had to hold him in my lap and sing in his ear so he wouldn’t cry. I was angry. He was making a big scene and I hate it when attention is directed my way. I like to live the life of a wall flower.
After singing and praying, we went in to the Adult Sunday School room. We learned about how each one of us has our own special gifts. The kids were supposed to draw a picture of their gift on a flag [piece of paper to be on display in the hallway later]. Keaton and Skyler both drew a picture to show their gift of art. Spencer drew a picture of himself, but when the leader asked him what his gift was he froze. He stopped drawing and he refused to speak to her. I prodded him to open his mouth and let sound come out, but he crossed his arms in defiance.
Then when we got to the art room, the leader said hello to us in many different languages. The kids were then supposed to choose one of the languages for them to say hello later in the drama room. Spencer refused to pick a language. He didn’t want to walk up and get his paper. And he didn’t want the girl to talk to him. I finally got him to choose German and I got his slip of paper for him. [Skyler chose Spanish and Keaton chose French.]
In the next room they did face painting and we made sun catchers. I thought for sure there was no way Spencer would let her paint the flame on his cheek. But to my surprise he actually did sit for her. So finally he participated.
This is not the first time Spencer has been difficult like this. He’s always like this. He cried and wouldn’t let go of my leg the first days of preschool, but now he couldn’t care less when I leave. I fought with him during Vacation Bible School last year because he was crying about participating with the group. He never really did get over that, but VBS was only for four days. And the first few days of Sunday School this year he didn’t want to stay in the room either. He was really getting on my last nerve. Now he runs to the classroom to get his attendance sticker and start playing.
I really just thought of this as him being difficult and whiny. But I was reading my Parents magazine and in this month’s edition there is an article about shy kids. And all of a sudden it occurred to me that Spencer is shy. How could I have not made that connection before? If you knew me as a child you would know that I have no room to criticize anybody for being shy. I was a horribly shy child. I didn’t want anybody to look at me or talk to me. I was terrified to go somewhere new or meet somebody new. I’m not quite as shy now, but I still have trouble looking people in the eye because I still have those twinges of shyness. And I still cannot speak in front of large groups without shaking and sweating profusely (TMI?). Heck, to this day I still do not like to go to a store or other public place by myself. I have a lot of anxiety alone, but if I bring just one other person (even if it’s someone young, like Caleb) I feel better. It gives me somebody to talk to [so people don't look at me and go 'who's that crazy lady talking to herself?'].
So growing up terribly shy I know what it feels like to be the outsider, desperately wanting to play with the group but being frozen with fear instead. Now that I’m older I know how important it is to just be yourself and not care what others think. And I want my kids to be outgoing and fit in. But I also remember what it felt like to be too afraid to be yourself. So I realized I’ve been going about this all wrong. I can’t force Spencer to join in to the group. He’s not trying to be difficult. He honestly cannot move his feet or open his mouth. He’s not doing it on purpose. So now I have resolved to help ease Spencer in to new situations better and be more understanding of his fears.
That Parents magazine…it’s like they can read my mind. Do they have a camera in my house? It’s almost freaky how their articles pertain so closely to my life. I guess that’s why they are such a good parenting magazine.
Read some more good articles on the subject: