Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Becoming a joiner, for the kids

As I sit here on a brisk morning, my kids watching "Barbie: Diamond Castle" and eating a second breakfast of pretzel sticks because they can't yet play outside, I contemplate what I have become because of them.

Today, I am A Joiner.

Before kids, I was happy to have a small, family-like circle of friends -- we relied on each other, we entertained each other, we needed little else.

But now, with two pairs of inquisitive eyes watching my every move -- and two little minds mimicking most of it -- I feel the need to be a better role model when it comes to socializing.

When I was a kid, I was timid around most everyone but my family. Extracurricular activities were excruciating. It took me an entire play date (though, of course, they weren't called that then) to warm up. I was reserved (shy?) well into adulthood.

I'm determined to help my kids get past that awkwardness much earlier in life, because I can see they both thrive on interaction with others ... even when mom doesn't.

So I have Joined -- a group of women who meet weekly to discuss the challenges of parenthood. I have Networked -- coffee, lunch, dinner, you name it. I have Signed Up -- classes, lectures, performances.

I have met some wonderful people -- even if I've fretted in preparation for most every meeting.

And my kids are learning that home is safe. Home is where the heart is. But maximum fun can be found when you venture beyond these four walls.


Anonymous said...

very good and interesting article. i'm not a mom (would like to be one in a few years), but i grew up spending oodles of time alone-was just me and my mom and she's very much a homebody so she never pushed me to be very social. now at 26, it's hard to find social outlets (i'm over the bar scene of the college days) and living alone makes it very, very easy to just spend all my time alone when not at work.

Anonymous said...

interesting article, as a child my mom enrolled me and my brother in everything and you'd think that from those experiences i would be more of a joiner myself and would have gotten over the shyness but nah, an incident in college set me back years and today i only join things if i have to and if someone else i know is doing it as well. my hope is that prior to have any children i'll have grown out of this phase of life.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with constant social and people and love the memories of so many fun things I did in my childhood with so many friends. Being naturally social though I needed solitude too for myself away from the social sharing. There was lots of 'free' time as well and that is what I believe children need most for PLAY and CREATING and development of their many gifts and talents to share with others or enjoy all by themselves. Free time for reading, music, art or pretending and exercising the imagination with day dreaming, cloud and star gazing or lots of outside activities and exploring. I was never alone with the people around me as a child so I relish that time today and even back then as a child, I did create a solitude around me when surrounded with people, lost in my play or imagination and pretending or creating. Being always an artist with a passion and joy for life began as a child when I was allowed to be myself with art, creating, pretending and playing or practicing for doing these many childhood dreams as an adult. Those days of dreaming and play (the child's work) allowed me time for finding my many interests and works that I do as an adult today and enjoy or sharing them with others. I think friends are found and enjoyed with common interests rather than just trying to be social. Shyness too will disappear or timid when the common interests are shared. Losing self in the common shared interest.
As rainer maria rilke the poet would or does say....."To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing..."
Children...timid or shy or not... each one are blessings to accept just the way they are as we watch them in their worlds of play. As they create and become true to themselves with their childhood play and growing confident with who they are will someday (way to soon I might add) become grownups knowing who they are with their interests and works to share with others. Children find out who they are and what they enjoy by exploring their world while we enjoy watching them with all their passion and joy. We can give them positive attentions as we are interested and share with them, enjoying while allowing them this freedom. Watching a child play and find out who they are is so very fascinating!

Anonymous said...

My mother tells the story about my first grade teacher moving me to the back of the room so I would be less shy and become more outgoing! That was not the problem though, I needed glasses and the second grade teacher discovered that for me! The first grade teacher had it all wrong labeling me shy! Yet,I know that if I am in a group especially a larger group I find myself shy allot of times and timid, being up front in the room rather than in the back is a better experience for me participating.
Years later my sixth grade teacher the husband to the first grade teacher moved me to the back of the room to keep me along with a couple of other students from being less outgoing and quieter; wanting us to be more 'timid or shy' while in class rather than socializing while learning. We talked the teacher out of it though after a few days and promised to be quieter or 'shy and timid' during class. He was a much better teacher than his wife and we were having so much fun while learning and it made us love his class, and he was a favorite teacher! We learned without the teacher trying to draw us out or control us or make us see we needed to change to what they thought we needed to be. Wearing glasses helped with the shyness in a child allowing them to see better; rather than an adult trying to change the child and labeling them shy.

Mary said...

I'd prefer those little groups, like your woman's group, that require just a little structure needed to plan the next activity.

Anonymous said...

Being kind, caring and loving is what makes for a good social connection and teaches children to do the same; rather than being selfish and trying to manipulate or control to get something for self in a social situation.

Going to church with the children for services, and sunday school and bible school and saying yes to being involved with the social and giving part of the church community is one of the best places to teach and enjoy socially with our children.

Also, as parents if we are not pretentious, superficial and closed off emotionally the child learns to be real and honest and sincere. Trusting us and not afraid to share who they really are with the world around them.

Accepting themselves and liking themselves makes them enjoyable and good social company. If they are accepted just the way they are as God made them with all their gifts and talents and personalities; and we show unconditional love they grow and bloom and blossom so much easier. A delight to watch!
Taking turns and genuinely lost in the adventure of the social situations as they forget about thinking of themselves socially.
Nothing worse than in a social situation when you are communicating and someone is not being their true self; they are just agreeing or not opening up sincerely as they play games to manipulate; instead they are just trying to be social and come off so phony and fake as they keep thinking of themselves and what they want other's to do for them or think of them.
The old saying..."just be yourself" is always the best way to be rather than trying to be someone you are not!
Seeking or hiding, real or phony, sincere or fake; socially these choices makes all the differences!
You are right though the kids are watching you and they will mimic!
Be real and be yourself for them to see!