Friday, November 28, 2008

The cutest island

As far as I can tell, Graham is not destined to be a social butterfly.

And that is fine, obviously.

Because he's not shy and I'm not worried about him being shy anymore. In the last several months he has moved beyond shyness (and I've moved beyond worrying about his shyness) to what can only be described as indifference.

Or maybe contempt.

My boy is not a joiner. And perhaps he gets that from me, but it is still just a little disconcerting to see him, at the tender age of barely three, roll his eyes and smirk when other children his age gather together to sing and clap and listen to stories and do normal things that, you know, normal three-year-olds enjoy!

Just last week his babysitter confirmed my experience at every playgroup we have ever attended.

"He plays alongside the children, but he doesn't like the group stuff at all. It's strange because I know he loves to sing and dance, but as soon as everyone starts singing or dancing together he gets really uncomfortable, almost like he's embarrassed."

You don't say?

At the playgroup we frequent, Graham is happy to play alongside children and even takes a marginal interest in them and what they are doing (especially if they have a toy he wants, but that's another story).

But when the group activities start? When everyone comes together in that age-old symbol of unity, the circle? When the thin, off-key, but nonetheless heart-burstingly-sweet voices of his peers fill the air?

Graham purses his lips into a half smile, widens his eyes and glances around, as if in disbelief.

"We need to go now mommy."

At first I always resist and try to get him to follow my enthusiastic example: I lean forward in exaggerated breathless anticipation or merrily sing or clap or stomp or do whatever damn thing the other kids and parents are happily doing.

But Graham always tilts his head and looks at me with a smirk and an expression that I swear borders on pity.

"We need to go home mommy. Now!"

And suddenly his smirk makes me feel a little self-conscious myself, what with my bad singing and my child's abject refusal to play along and the wry, pitying glances of the parents of all the future prom kings and queens whose bright and shiny faces reflect their common rapture.

"He's just not a joiner," I offer.

And then we get the heck out of there.

Nope, I don't think Graham is destined to be a social butterfly.

Should I commence worrying that he is destined instead to be a lone wolf or, worse, a jaded, cynical hipster?

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Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

He would have become like that as a teenage boy anyway--he's just letting you get used to it early. Worrying about your kids is definitely overrated!

Anonymous said...

When it comes time to get in a circle and sing my darling three year old thinks it's his personal invitation to run laps around the other kids in his own private race.

The bad thing is he actively encourages the other kids to join him and the moms give me dirty looks.

It's scary to see how strong their personalities are at this age, already.

Anonymous said...

When it comes time to get in a circle and sing my darling three year old thinks it's his personal invitation to run laps around the other kids in his own private race.

The bad thing is he actively encourages the other kids to join him and the moms give me dirty looks.

It's scary to see how strong their personalities are at this age, already.

Chantal said...

When I put my son in day care (when he was 3), he hated circle time. He had only 1 friend, in a group of 24 kids. I could never really tell if he was shy or what. He is 7 now. He still has only a few select friends. He seems to chose a few and focus on them instead of being a social butterfly. But every year I see his social skills develop. I was worried when he was 3. I am not anymore.

the planet of janet said...

he will come into his own in his own time.

Mr Lady said...

My oldest was exactly the same way. Oh, how I worried. I tried to help him join "the group", whatever group that may be. I enocuraged him to put himself out there. And he WOULD NOT DO IT.

Seriously, same smirk you describe, same quick-to-flee attitude. And now he's in 5th grade, and I've never seen a person more comfortable within himself, a more social-adjusted child, a more well liked and dare I say it POPULAR child. He knew something I didn't, not at all.

I think your man is going to turn out just like him.

Anonymous said...

He's too cool for it, I guess. :)
He'll be enormously popular, without caring that he's enormously popular. That's my prediction. Best of both worlds.

Jess said...

I was pretty sure there was something seriously wrong with Rosey. She started going to playgroup when she was almost three, and oh lord, you'd have thought she was the smallest adult in the room.
Toys? Yay! Other kids? Tosh.

She's just over four now and finally will sit on the mat and clap in the right places during songs. Her teacher basically shrugged and said 'Eh, some of them don't. Doesn't mean they're misfits.'

That made me feel tremendously better. She's not a misfit. She's just introspective.
hugs to you

Anonymous said...

I too have a kid who'd rather be alone than float with the crowd. It's hard to accept sometimes though, isn't it?

Run ANC said...

Maybe he just has discerning taste.

Autumn said...

Whatever you do, don't get concerned. Be proud that he finds his own path. Good for him!

Beth Cotell said...

My son is the same way. He is six now and has several very close friends and is as happy as can be.

But I guess he gets it from me because that's how I am. I prefer one or two very close friends than a large group of not so good friends.

Heather said...

He may surprise you and be totally different by the time he starts Kindergarten too. You never know! said...

They are who they are. I have 3 totally different children, and they're all turning out to be moderately acceptable to society. Plus, Graham's got that gorgeous eye thing goin on for him. That'll counter-balance any cynicism he may have a tendency for...


flutter said...

he's got that little light inside that just draws people in, yes?

Kellan said...

I find Graham very mysterious and interesting! He will be a leader - that is what he will be.

Hey - Are you going to BlogHer09? I haven't looked on your sidebar to see if you have "the" button. Hope you are.

Have a good weekend - Kellan

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Oh my gosh, he is just like my Jude, I know we spoke of the shyness thing, but he does this too. I have started going to playgroup with him and it took 4 weeks before he would deign to even play near the other kids. Now he will actually play with one of the other boys, but he hates the group stuff. Hates!
The looks are hysterical. Isn't it funny how distinct their personalities are?

April said...

Riley doesn't normally like a group, either, but she's great one-on-one - particularly with the other non-joiners. Worry about neither - something else will come along that will be enough cause for worry in our mommyhood!

painted maypole said...

jaded, cynical hipster, for sure. Send me tickets to his latest art show/independent film/book signing

Whitenoise said...

Most of the boys aren't joiners at that age, that's more of a girl thing. And, kids change. My shy 3yr old turned out to be a 14yr old social butterfly. Every year brings new surprises, new challenges and new rewards.

Beck said...

I think that IS a boy thing - at The Baby's circle time, it's all the little girls who are clapping and singing and all of the little boys are being encouraged on the sidelines by their mothers. The social life of boys takes different, weird-shaped forms.

RiverPoet said...

Maybe he's just older than his years and already has that elementary school attitude about anything that smacks of being silly :-)

Peace - D

newduck said...

Here's the thing. If I was forced to sit in a circle and sing Barney songs I would roll my eyes too. He sounds like he's just advanced for his age, or else he just has really good taste.

Polly said...

Have to agree with newduck, the kid is just far too cool!!

Lori Stewart Weidert said...

My son's kindergarten teacher called me to the school with a similar report: He preferred to remain on the outskirts, and observe. He was a happy, healthy, content little kid.

He was never what you'd call a social butterfuly, in that he wasn't interested in conforming, but he's certainly not antisocial, and now a young man, has more friends than I could possibly ever keep track of..and I love them all like they're my own!

Anonymous said...

Worry? Heck no!!! The boy knows what he wants and needs. My daughter has a gazillion friends and will play with anyone, although her BFF Rylie is always first on her list. My son will play with anyone, but prefers a couple friends to all the rest . . . all you really need are 1 or 2 really good friends - I believe it's quality, not quantity, when it comes to friendships.

Kelly O said...

My daughter is the same way. I'm finding it immensely comforting that so many other people's kids do that, too.

Jaina said...

I wonder what he's thinking.