The Birth of a Social Butterfly

by Cate on November 17, 2010

Nick and Madeline are like night and day.  In most respects, their personalities couldn’t be more opposite of each other, although there are little glimmers of overlap here and there.  Nick, since birth, has always been my shy kid.  My ask-a-million-questions-and-still-wade-in-with-trepidation child.  He worries.  He overthinks.  He analyzes.  He’s quiet.  Introspective.  Reflective.

In the Spring of this year, I made the difficult decision to switch his school.  A million different reasons.  None of them important now.  My biggest concern at the time was his socialization with the new kids, teachers and school.  Because he is involved in town sports, summer camp and Cub Scouts, he knew a lot of kids, and had many friends, outside of his (then) current school, so I didn’t let his shyness stop me from making the right decision for him.

Then, something happened.  I can’t really put my finger on what it was, but in May of this year, he started to become more and more extroverted outside of our usual circles of friends and family.  He came so much out of his shell that I honestly wanted to look for a few pieces of the shell to put him back in.  An example.  Over the summer, I was out at a local restaurant with a co-worker, our first time visiting that establishment.  It was terrible.  I’m honestly surprised they’re still in business.  While we were sitting there waiting for our food, we could see the cooks in the kitchen, and watched as they picked up Nick’s chicken fingers with their bare hands and put it on the plate.  When they set the plate down at our table, Nick was horrified.  Even my (then) seven-year-old knew that touching our food with bare hands was a big no-no.  He beckoned the waitress over to say something to her about it. A year ago, Nick never would have done something like that.  He would ask me to do it for him.

I watched him slowly emerge in the Spring and Summer, with more and more of his personality coming out.  He was more vocal with strangers.  Less shy about getting up in front of people.  More alive, quite honestly.  And I blame Madeline.  In a good way, of course, but it’s all her fault.  She is anything but shy.  She goes up to perfect strangers with no hesitation on a regular basis to ask if she can pet their dog.  She will turn down an aisle in a store and not look twice to see if I’m nearby.  She talks to anybody and everybody.  Heck, the child talks to herself too.  I think Nick has taken some cues from his sister, and that has given him a little more confidence in himself.  For the most part, this is a good thing.

But back to school.  About a month ago, I went in to Nick’s class for the first Parent/Teacher Conference at his new school.  We started talking about how he was doing in class, how the transition was going, and I asked how he was with the other kids.  He knew two classmates before school started in September, from town soccer, but I wanted to know if he was making friends easily, talking in class and how he was adjusting.  Because in switching schools, that was the thing I thought about the most.

The teachers pointed to the kids’ desks and the layout.  It looked like this.  See all those squares?  All kids’ desks.  See the one in the middle?  All by itself?  Want to guess who sits there?

My Social Butterfly

My shy, quiet kid.  They had just moved him that morning.  She said they had tried various layouts and configurations TO GET HIM TO STOP TALKING SO MUCH.  This was the last one.  Part of my heart broke when I saw that, because it seemed a little Scarlet Letter to me.  Like “let’s shine a light on the one in trouble.”  I asked if he was upset by the move, and they said no, he didn’t seem to be bothered at all.  And then it hit me.

Of course not.  Because now Mr. Mayor was in the thick of it all.  The center of attention.  He could talk to everyone at anytime.  It turns out it backfired a bit on the teachers.

Needless to say, the desk formation changed the following week.

I am always fascinated by the kids’ personalities.  How different they are, yet how similar.  How they really feed off each other and complement and contrast each other so well.

But most of all … how Nick is really coming into his own.  Most days, I think that’s a good thing.  ;)

Project 365
November 17, 2010, Photo #221 and 222

Pigs Flew

Pigs flew. For just a few minutes. This morning. Did you happen to see them?  I have had countless conversations recently with Madeline about her hair. That if she doesn’t let me brush it, I will cut it shorter. That if she doesn’t stop putting food or toothpaste in it, I will cut it shorter. For a brief moment, I thought I got through to her. After I brushed her hair this morning, she asked me to put it in a ponytail. I was shocked. And had to take a picture for posterity because it may never happen again. She made it all the way to the car with it in her hair, and then promptly took it out and said she was done with it.

Somebody Ticked HER Off

I don’t know who did what to Mother Nature, but she was seriously ticked off this morning. This was at 8:45 am.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey November 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I love all the changes that childhood brings and feel so lucky to be able to witness them. Glad Nick stuck up for himself in the restaurant and I love that he’s becoming a chatty kiddo!


Joanne November 18, 2010 at 7:17 am

I used to be the shy kid too but unfortunately I never had that radical change. Until I started online dating. That brought me out of my shell real fast. Or at least made me more comfortable making small talk with strangers. I’m actually glad Nick has become a social butterfly because he seems like he’s also a really good sweet kid on top of it, the two of which don’t always go hand in hand. The world needs more men like him. :P


Mandi (formerly known as Red Dirt Mummy) November 18, 2010 at 8:08 am

I know haven’t commented lately but I have been here reading along. Had to stop and leave a comment for this one through – I think we’ve given birth to the same kids: Mr Trepidition and Miss Never Shuts Up. I giggled my whole way through this post, you described my two to a tee as well as nailing how the boy-child is starting to come into his own. I blame his sister too ;)


The Sister In-Law November 18, 2010 at 8:53 am

I’ve noticed that change in Nick this past year as well. His dad had the same problem, very shy at home, at school a different kid. Since I was the older sister and most time had his teacher the previous year, I got called every week to bring notes home… Mr. Ex was talking during math, Mr. Ex was talking during science, Mr. Ex was talking, etc. I think you get the point.

Nick is a great kid, kind, smart and and not so shy anymore!!



Ramona November 18, 2010 at 10:22 am

Well I guess both situations can be bad, but if I had to choose – I’d rather them not be shy.

I was shy and it took me many, many years to overcome it’s affects.


Ana November 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I have always been and still am a little shy, but I learned to overcome my shyness when needed! :-)
I am glad your son wasn’t bothered by being in the center… I would be terrified.
Kate I would like to ask you something about when you went to Hershey PA with the kids. We are planning on driving up there next week (I am in NC). I have a 8 yo boy just like you and my son have been asking to go to the chocolate world in Hershey PA. Did Nick like it there? Was there a lot to do?
We are planning to spend a whole day in Hershey doing the chocolate activities, and then head on the next day to Philadelphia for a couple of days. (we don’t have family around, everyone back in Brazil, so that’s why we travel on the thanksgiving break).
I have never been to any of these cities/places, and my son is so excited about the chocolate thing that I didn’t want to disappoint him in case it wasn’t all that.
If you could please let me know what you and your kids thought of the chocolate world I would appreciate. None of my friends have been there yet.
Thank you so much!
I really enjoy your blog, you are a super mom!


Cate November 20, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Ana – I think your son (and you!) will have a great time visiting Hershey. Since the weather is now a bit colder, you will be limited in what you can do, but there is still plenty. At Chocolate World, you can make your own chocolate bar, see a 3D movie, and go through a small ride where it shows how chocolate it made (that is Madeline’s favorite thing to do there). There is also a great chocolate store, and a cafe/bakery area where you can enjoy fresh-baked cookies and chocolate ice cream. If you’re there at night next week, then do the Sweet Lights. We went up last year at Christmastime to ride through this area, and the kids loved it. You drive two miles through over 600 lit-up displays – really pretty, and in the comfort of your own car. Hershey Park is also all decorated for Christmas now too. Have fun!


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