The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

If I were the typecasting type (who, me?), I'd put myself in the "slow to learn" category

Today's ministone is brought to you courtesy of Evan, who happily spent 2 hours in babysitting at the temple today while I attended a school committee meeting. I was hopefully optimistic that he'd enjoy this activity, particularly since a couple of his buddies from this summer's Mommy and Me class were going to be there as well, but I've really only left him with a select few people before, and never out of my home or with other children, so group babysitting with unknown adults had the potential to be a complete disaster. It wasn't though, and the opportunity to sit in a meeting with other grownups and sip coffee while both of my children were playing cheerfully was pretty darn nice. (Yes, I ended up volunteering for more committees than I'm already committed to. But I also may have picked up a little bit of freelance copywriting work in the process, so it's all a good tradeoff in my book.)

When I came back to pick Evan up at the end, he was happily playing ball with one of the volunteer sitters. "How old IS he," she asked me, and when I responded that he's 19 months, she commented on his great fine motor skills. "He spent a long time with those puzzles and he did a great job with them," she told me. I wasn't at all surprised, since Evan's been obsessed with puzzles at home lately and seems to spend hours on end fitting wooden pieces into oddly shaped slots. But I was surprised at the warm fuzzy I got when I heard him complimented in that way. Evan's my charmer and people are always telling me how sweet he is. But the "bright" compliments are always reserved for Julia. Even I'm often guilty, I'm afraid, of pigeon holing my kids into far too narrowly defined categories. Julia's smart. Evan's gregarious. It's sometimes as if even I forget that one trait doesn't necessarily negate the other.

Today's unexpected Evan compliment came on the heels of unexpected Julia praise. Just a few days ago, Julia's teacher stopped me to mention how incredibly well Julia's doing socially this year. She's got a whole posse of little girlfriends, her teacher reported, and particularly when they get out there on the playground together, Julia's 100% in the mix; animated and loud and full of boundless enthusiasm for the games they play together. It was nice to hear her teacher confirm what I've seen for myself when I arrive a little early to pick her up and get a moment to spy on her on the playground. My shy, reserved child is finally coming out of her shell and blossoming socially, and the Julia her classmates see at school is starting to look more and more like the happy, talkative child I'm used to seeing at home. She's never going to be outgoing, but she's getting out there, and I couldn't be prouder of her.

I guess if Julia's going to be social and Evan's proving himself to have a decent head on his shoulders, I'm going to have to resist the urge to typecast my kids quite so much going forward, and thank God for that. I've always hated the way some parents limit their children by too narrowly stereotyping them, yet I've turned out to be guilty of that very habit on more occasions than I'd like to admit. Old habits die hard. It's easy for Evan to be cute and it's easy for Julia to be bright and it's far too easy for me to just think of them that way. But my kids have proven this week that they can rise above those silly titles I've saddled them with. The least I can do is try to do the same. Lesson learned and duly noted.


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Oh sure, all parents tend to pigeonhole their kids to some extent. Over here, Sam is the sweet one and Matt is the Loki. But I'm glad Julia is being a little more gregarious, bless her little heart. I have a soft spot for that girl. As for Evan? Of course he's intelligent like Julia; look at their parents.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

My comment? I think we're all a little slow to learn, when it comes to kids...

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Mea culpa as well. A lesson I've also learned but its taken me longer than you, I think. In some perverse way, I'm glad to see I'm not alone! At the risk of stereotyping (again!), I have to tell you its freaking me out a bit how alike Danielle and Julia seem to be (smart, shy but becoming social butterflies at school) and Iain and Evan are (charming, outgoing, etc). Maybe its a first child second child thing??


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