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