Sunday, April 27, 2008

It was a misty drive home

He was one of those big, boisterous, charming kids that you just know is going to be the big man on campus one day.

And he spotted Graham right away yesterday morning as we grabbed the necessities at the grocery store.

"Hello there!" he shouted with a beaming smile as he bounded over. "Hi, my name's Michael. What's your name?"

And Graham kind of half smiled and murmured before burying his face in my leg.

And I almost said, He's a little shy, but I bit my tongue, remembering all the wonderful advice about NOT LABELING that I received in response to this post.

So I just smiled and said, "His name is Graham. Nice to meet you Michael," as we turned into the next aisle.

"You know Graham," I said casually, a few moments later. "If you do want to talk to that boy, you can just say, "Hello there, my name is Graham.'"

He look at me gravely. I pulled a silly face. "Hello there, my name is Graham."

He shrugged. "No mama."

A few minutes later we met at the checkout, Graham and I and Micheal and his mother and a sister who appeared to be just a few years older.

"Hello there Graham," Michael bellowed. "Hi Graham, hi Graham!"

His sister chimed in. "Hi Graham, hi Graham!"

Graham smiled widely, but ducked to hide behind me as the children continued their greetings in sing-song unison.

"Hi Graham, hi Graham!"

"Keep it down guys," their mother finally chided. "The little boy is shy."

"Ya, Graham's shy. Leave the shy boy alone Michael," said the little girl.

And I smiled weakly but inside my heart sank because, as pleased as I might be with my resolution not to label Graham as shy, I hadn't really thought about how he might be affected by others who did.

Whatever. I shrugged it off and away we went.

But as we pulled out of the parking lot I heard something: something that brought tears to my eyes because it made me realize that this battle, if you can even call it a battle, wasn't and never will be, mine to win or lose.

I heard a soft voice in the back seat, earnest and steady, repeating a phrase over and over again with practiced determination.

"Hello there, my name is Graham. Hello there, my name is Graham."

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75 comments:

E said...

We are all working on stuff. He is working on this. Some kids are working on not being afraid of the ball, or telling the truth, or using their inside voices. ( My extroverted self always heard Tone It Down!) )
This is his work right now.
It's okay. This is not scarring him. It is his work....You just keep right on loving him up and telling him about stuff you have had to work on and predict the future for him. Kids have a hard time imagining the future. But we can predict it, telling him that it will get easier etc....This will reassure him as he goes about the business of his work

Ms. H said...

Awwww! That has got to be one of the sweetest things I've "seen" in a LONG time. I've already got a soft spot for the quiet kids...and your kiddo just moved right on in there! What a little sweetheart you have -- take heart, Mama. It sounds like he's going to be okay. ;)

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Say with a smile.. "He is not shy, he's just thinking."

:-) In reply to the comment about shyness....

I have one... and the girl is outgrowing it by leaps and bounds! You should have seen her audition this year for the school play. She was awesome and got the part. Don't worry about it!

Aunt Becky said...

Dude, *I'm* getting misty about this.

Seriously.

What a sweet guy!

April said...

Oh, that's perfect! You did what you needed to do - you didn't label him, and you taught him how one goes about meeting people, but you didn't push him to do it. And then he saw - through the other kids and their mom - how others perceive him. And decided he's going to do something about it. How proud you must be!

Dawn said...

Wow, what a cool little kid you've got there ;) I think you're a pretty terrific mama also.

Cee said...

aww, this post made me a little misty too. I think the fact that he is trying shows his courage. I was "the shy" one. You know, being shy seemed to be so hard some days, as i battled my own personal obstacles. But in the end, i think being shy was also good. It gave me time to grow at my own pace. I didn't worry about peer pressure, I focused on school, had one or two really close good friends, it saved me from dangerous parties. I outgrew my shyness at my own rate.

I think Graham will be just fine. He seems so sweet and thoughtful. Shyness isn't a bad thing- he will slowy get more and more comfortable too. He's the kind of guy that the good girls will want to date :)

Huckdoll said...

Oh my gosh, that is beautiful. I'm even so proud for him! What a sweetheart he is and a fabulous mother you are.

lattemommy said...

I can see why that got you a bit misty! Isn't it amazing when you get a glimpse into what their little brains are processing? I admire his courage and his desire to work on his shyness. He'll be clambering out of that shell before you know it.

flutter said...

he's brave, that one. No one puts Graham in a corner!

I mean really, to practice? How many adults immediately work to solve things that bother us?

ourlittlefunnybunny said...

That brought tears to my eyes. Samantha does that a lot too, and it always makes me smile and tear up. It's a beautiful thing watching them learn and process things in their minds and take little steps towards big things in life.

Momma said...

You're a great mother. You taught him how to handle himself in the future. Incidentally, I was a shy kid, and everyone knew it. Maybe labeling isn't a good thing, but it actually helped me understand myself better, as a child, to know that what I felt had a name - shyness. I outgrew it. I'd wager your Graham will do the same.

Peace - D

Angella said...

I'm misty too.

MY Graham is the uber-outgoing type of kid. And I fear that in his exuberance, he may freak people out. Sometimes I wish he was a little *more* shy.

It's hard being a Mom. You want your kid to be OK in social circumstances.

Sigh.

Heather said...

Awww. The image of him in the back seat murmuring to himself, practicing, that got me a little teary. He'll get it mom, don't worry.

Law Student Hot Mama said...

Awwwwwww. He'll get the hang of it sooner or later . . . it's good that he's working on it! But isn't that always how it is - we want to fight the battles for our children and they're the ones who ultimately have to walk on their own?

SciFi Dad said...

One day he will realize that whatever he's letting hold him back right now isn't worth waiting for, and he'll step forward and introduce himself just as he wants to.

In the meantime, just let him be who he is. He'll be fine.

Tracey said...

See? He CAN do it. It'll just take him his own timeframe to do so. Your heart may break repeatedly FOR him, but that's the name of the motherhood game, hon. It's wonderful and horrible simultaneously, isn't it?

sky girl said...

Cripes. As always, by the time I get here there's already a bazillion comments. :)

This was so heartwarming to read.

LaskiGal said...

*gulp*

What a kid! He does it his way, momma. Hooray for you for giving him a choice . . . independence. You didn't label, didn't force . . . you were just THERE. Perfect!

They'll soon be a time when I'm sure everyone will hear his voice . . .

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

He's going to remember this moment and you are a great mother for helping him overcome his shyness. I bet the next time he meets an outgoing child, he'll say "Hello there, my name is Graham."

MommyTime said...

Heartbreaking and sweet. Sometimes they just have to find their own way. For my son, the mantra was, "it's okay if it's not perfect" -- and it took him many many many repetitions under his breath before he would let go of his perfectionism long enough to write or draw on his own. How strong and wonderful of you to help him along the way as you have done, though, by not insisting that he do this in any time but his own.

Jenifer said...

I am always amazed at what I hear during the girls imaginary play. They work out so many things by themselves, it is like they need to space to sort it all out.

I bet Graham is no different.

Maureen said...

Awwww....stop it! I'm about to cry...

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Oh my goodness, he is breaking my heart! How wonderful is he, already pushing through!
Though I am not sure how you drove home through the mist...

Mac and Cheese said...

That is the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

Just Janice said...

Awwww - good for him for practicing! My DD #1 is that type of kid who walks up to anyone and says: Hi - I'm Sierra. Everything she does draws attention to herself - I'm not sure which worse, having a shy kid, or a kid that is FAR too outgoing.

HRH said...

What an amazing story. We struggle with that here. It is hard to know when to step in and speak for my son and when to let him stand with a moment of silence. I believe it will all work out in the end with the support they have.

krissy said...

Don't fret too much. I was very, very shy as a small child. I quickly got over it when I found my best friend in school and she happened to be the least shy kid ever. She cracked that shell for me and I have been outgoing and social every since.

The same thing happened to my daughter too. She was scared of people approaching her. She would scream at the top of her lungs. But, she too has become a very outgoing gal as well.

Once school starts the teachers are aware of super shy kids and they really work with you to help get the child to open up. So, the battle can be won.....in due time!

Laura said...

What a sweetheart...he will find the courage...when he is ready.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That's great.

Vered said...

I'm proud of Graham. :)

I am painfully shy. Always was, always will be. But you learn to deal with it. There are tools and techniques. Yes, he *will* be labeled by others. But the earlier he learns how to deal with it, the better.

Great job, mom. :)

oda41143 Missy said...

God love his little heart. He is going to come out of it. I just know it and he's already practicing. Stay strong mom!!!

Family Adventure said...

How great is your little boy?!?! Good job, Graham. Keep up the practicing...

Heidi

InTheFastLane said...

ah...that almost made me cry at how hard he is working. He wants to do it and so he will...in his time.

mamatulip said...

*oof*

My heart!

Chantal said...

sniff, sniff. Our kids lives, it is so hard to watch. I was a lot like him, sounds like he will be just fine!

Mandy said...

I have had to work hard at not labelling Nate. He's already said to me, "I am a little bit shy mom."

Big oops!

I will try your technique and see how that works.

MommyK said...

When my son was Graham's age, he was the same way. People would ask him his name or his age and he would just sit there and stare at them.

He's going on four and now we have the opposite problem, he talks to anyone and everyone. "HI! I'm Johnny and when I'm four I can go to school and I pooped in the potty this morning and Mom gave me a Reese cup! And my sister's name is Maureen and she has a butt!"

Sometimes I wish for those shy days...

skiplovey said...

That almost made me cry!

See, he's working on it. Aw, I just want to give him a big hug.

Karen C. said...

Aw, my heart's breaking for him!! Poor little guy. He'll get there, though, don't you think?

Ali said...

oh, how sweet is he?! :)

Victoria said...

Sweet little guy. Love the "He's not shy, he's thinking" idea. I've got a shy boy too (he's now nearly eight and growing out of it...)

Your boy is a cutie!

a kelly said...

GO GRAHAM!
GO MOM!

You are an awesome mom for giving him the tool to reach beyond his natural tendencies...to reach out to the world. He has such an advantage to have a mom with insight and the qualities to model the behaviour he needs to reach out to the world. He's gonna be fine. Just fine.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

This got me right where it hurts. Chicky is also shy and she waits for me to speak for her. We've had a lot of days like the one you described.

Mental P Mama said...

How very dear and precious that child is...

kittenpie said...

Oh, as a shy kid, I know that one, the one where you wish, too late, that you had known what to say. But you'll help him by giving him some stock phrases to try at the times when he has enough time to get more comfortable or screw up his courage.

Meanwhile, I try to phrase shy as a mood, so that the label is less permanent, more like, "Do you feel shy right now?" or "He might feel shy right now." It allows for warming up to a situation and coming out of that shy mood, and can defuse the label when others apply it.

Heather said...

You seem like a wonderful, loving, supportive mother, and your son seems like he is going to get there with his own drive and determination. You guys will figure it out, and it will be fine. I think, from what I've seen at my boys' classes, the outgoing kids are less in number than those that aren't outgoing, and one good buddy is all it takes.

chelle said...

awwww that gave me goose bumps!!!!! I have a kid that is not all that outgoing and she practices too, in the mirror! So I got her a cute little mirror of her own that she can use :)

kay said...

ugh. poor sweet thing. that one really got me. isn't it strange that they are so different at home than in public?

Joanna said...

Aww! Give him an extra squeeze.

Melissa said...

Awesome! Every day I remind myself that they (my girls) have their own inner battles they will have to fight. We can try to help, but as they say, "it's their journey". What's so awesome is that you got to see it in action. I'm trying to be all strong when I write this, but I'm really choked up about it, too. We have to have faith in these little people -- they're so wonderful and way stronger than we realize.

ConverseMomma said...

You are a true poetess. This post is so simply lovely and moved me to tears.

womaninawindow said...

ohh, that last line, ohh...

Indy said...

Man. I am tearing up. So sweet.

Melisa said...

Oh my goodness, I must be really really emotional today. I can't count how many times I've had watery eyes today...this was one!

How cute is that!

He'll say it to other people someday soon, don't you worry. He's gonna be fine.

*He's so cute!!!!*

Karen said...

Oh bless his tiny little heart! Someday he'll work up the courage to say that out loud to a brand new friend.

Karen MEG said...

Oh your sweet Graham, what a cute little guy.

He's getting there and he will be there before you know it. He was smiling too, and that's a very good thing!

Angie said...

Yes, I hear you.

Unfortunately, I am learning that these lessons are a part of life, no matter how they pain us as parents. I am pained daily at these lessons that get harder and meaner, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as the kids age.

KEEP BELIEVING

Elaine A. said...

That sounds positive to me. He just workin' it out in that sweet little boy head of his. One of these days it will come out just as he said it in the car. One of these days when he's ready.

Sweet, sweet boy...

Lisa said...

What a great mom you are, Kelly. Graham is lucky to have someone with the insight that you have, knowing just what he needs at all the right times.

Kami said...

Can I tell you how many times I have said to kids like Michael, oh he's shy.

I have a nice bruise on my forehead where I have whacked myself say D'HOH!

:-)

He's going to be fine, just fine, you precious Graham. He's got a fantastic Mommy who's going to teach him all he needs to know.

;-)

Kami said...

Yeah and have a I mentioned that my typing skills.... SUCK!

That would be saying D'HOH and your precious Graham....

Kathryn said...

Okay, now I'm misty!
What a precious, precious boy you have.

caramama said...

Awwwwww! This literally brought tears to my eyes! Good for him, and good for you not labeling him. I also think that's so important.

Melody said...

Oh - this made me tear up!

I have one that's a lot more sensitive than most (not really shy, but you know how the really nice ones always get picked on??)and it provides it's own problems.

You want them to learn how to cope on their own, but at the same time you want to pave the way to an easy life for them - UGH.

Thanks.

painted maypole said...

oh. he'll get there, wherever "there" is for him.

Corey~living and loving said...

oh how I need the eye windsheild wipers....so misty. What a good mom you are!

C said...

Awwwww! That Graham of yours is just so sweet :)

Tootsie Farklepants said...

*sniffle*

La La said...

I wasn't expecting that, and I just burst into tears. Go, Graham! How completely and utterly PRECIOUS is he!!!

I love your writing and your stories.

Shellie said...

Sniff! What a sweetie. He's learning; this is life!

common mom said...

What a sweetheart! I was shy as a kid . . . but you'd never know it now. He'll be what he'll be - which will always include sweet!

Kate said...

Oh, he breaks my heart. He'll get it. I know he will.

Jen said...

Oh HOW sweet. He's very reflective, isn't he? That will be a blessing to him in life.

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