Outside Looking In

posted in: Monkey My Son, Toddler, Toddler Activities 155 comments


We sat on the fringes, watching the other moms and their toddlers tackle the kiddy gym equipment.

The kids were squealing with delight, their moms clapping and looking on in encouragement.

You sat there, looking ahead of you at I-don’t-know-what.

I sat there, desperately wondering if there was something wrong with you. That at 2 years, 2 months, you show no interest in the things other toddlers do.

For 25 minutes, I wrestled with you, trying to keep you in the circle of activity of our first toddler gym class, where everyone was singing along and clapping.

You sat on my lap, facing me, biting ferociously into my shoulder, showing me in no uncertain terms that you hated this.

The rest of the time, you kept saying “Bye!”, and leading me to the door, reaching for the handle, wanting to leave.

I kept steering you away from the door, trying to interest you in the things all the other kids were doing.

Only when they brought out the balls and bust out the bubbles, did you finally step into that circle.

And I sat there on the outside looking in.

Wondering if there isn’t anything wrong with you, but with my expectactions of you.

That you’re not like other kids, never have been.

You’ve always been a little cautious and wary of new environments and strangers.

You’ve always taken a little longer than other kids to warm up to people you’ve just met.

You’ve always forged your own path.

You’ve always clung onto what is familiar to you and those you love.

You’ve always thrived on routine and knowing what to expect.

You’ve always surprised me with your introspectiveness, in your own toddler-like way.

So as I sit, outside looking in at you, my son, know that Mama is proud of you. Always.

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • February 28, 2012 Cynthia M

    I had two cautious children who took a while to warm up to new people and situations. That was the only way the boy was cautious. Give him something to climb and he was all over it; still is. I think we’re all born with a certain amount of our temperament built in, and as moms we just have to learn who they are and help them be the best THEM they can be.
    Cynthia M recently wrote…My Disneyland Photobook from ShutterflyMy Profile

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      You’re absolutely right, Cynthia. Instead of trying to force him into a ‘molud’, I want to help him to be the best HIM he can be.

  • February 28, 2012 Christine

    This was my experience with my now 5-year old son about two and a half years ago. I signed him up for a tumbling class at 18 months and for 45 minutes for the first 4-5 weeks, he screamed and cried through the entire class. He definitely is a cautious one. While his cousins and friends would rush head first into any new situation, he sat back and watched. I was worried at first and it was hard to watch him be shy but he is now coming into his own and so amazing to watch.
    Christine recently wrote…Scenes From My Weekend – Lake TahoeMy Profile

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      It’s so good to know that he’s come into his own. I hope my son does too, over time.

  • February 28, 2012 Kim Pugliano

    Oh my goodness that was beautiful!!! So sweet.
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    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Kim!

  • February 28, 2012 Mirjam

    My kids are the same, I’ve done the toddler gym with each of them and was amazed, how quiet they were, refusing to join and then singing and dancing all of the songs, once they got home.
    I kept going and after a while they acted like they owned the place, but never danced in the circle like other kids did. It’s wonderful to be able to love and accept our kids just the way they are.
    Mirjam recently wrote…TraditionsMy Profile

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      I just want Monkey to get comfortable in the class, whether it’s being part of the group or just doing his own thing. But I don’t want to pressure/ force him into anything, so we’ll just keep going and see how we do in the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

  • February 28, 2012 Ann

    That was beautifully written. I guess that being cautious at this age has it’s challenges, but he sounds like he might a look-before-you-leap kind of guy that will serve him well in the future!
    Ann recently wrote…Cous Cous, Chicken and Orange SaladMy Profile

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      I sure hope so Ann!

  • February 28, 2012 Blond Duck

    Awww! It’s awesome he marches to his own path!
    Blond Duck recently wrote…Ode to My Little Pony and How I love TheeMy Profile

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, I thinks so too. πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Mark

    He’ll be alright! You’ve prepared him well.

    • February 28, 2012 Alison

      Oh Mark. I hope so. Thank you for the vote of confidence!

  • February 28, 2012 Mayor Gia

    Awww, a very touching post. I bet he’s gonna like reading about himself one day!
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I sure hope so! At the very least, not embarrassed πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Natalie

    This is so beautiful! He’s just cautious…Nolan does the same thing. He’s weighing his options πŸ™‚
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Weighing options is a good thing, so yeah, I’m going with that πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Louise Ducote

    What a sweet post; your son sounds very wise.
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Wise is a good way to look at it!

  • February 28, 2012 Missy

    There are more kids like this than it feels like to you right now. This quality of his personality will serve him well as he grows up. Not being someone who jumps in without evaluating the scene? Could save him from some big mistakes as a teen and college kid.

    Good for you for recognizing that it’s OK for him to be cautious and reserved.
    Missy recently wrote…It’s All About Me Week – Let’s Get Real Like Dr. PhilMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Missy, that’s really reassuring. After reading all the comments, you’re right, it does seem that there are many kids just like Monkey πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Galit Breen

    Beautiful. Stunning, really.

    That love that we have, and that moment that we can separate our expectations of them, and just them.

    (A truly beautiful mothering moment, Alison.)
    Galit Breen recently wrote…EasyMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, Galit, truly. xo

  • February 28, 2012 CJ

    I learned very early on in parenting that the “different” ones are the ones with the hidden treasures others aren’t privy to!
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      He’s only 2 so yes, I’m waiting to unearth some of those treasures πŸ™‚ Thanks for dropping by CJ!

  • February 28, 2012 Jennifer Probst

    Beautifully written, as always! And my older son is so like that – didn’t talk till 2 and a half – always stood on the sidelines looking around, scared of other children. A thinker, a ponderer, a cautious child, even today. And it’s beautiful to watch and accept who they are, though it may not be what we expected. Thanks so much for sharing!
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jennifer! I like that – a thinker and a ponderer. I hope Monkey is that too.

  • February 28, 2012 Christine

    I find it very hard to decide when to encourage participation and when to just let it go and say “he/she doesnt want to do this. and that’s fine.” My daughter used to grab her shoes and stand by the exit 5 minutes into music class. And she loves music. I wanted to stay, not so much for the music but to be around other adults. But she won every time.
    Christine recently wrote…Notes from the SidelinesMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I think it’d depend on age. Since Monkey is only 2, there’s no reasoning or pleading. All I can do is try and encourage him to at least hang out in the class, on the periphery if that’s what he wants, rather than just give up and never go again. When he’s older, I hope to be able to have discussions with him regarding why he chooses to stay on the sidelines or participate. Something I can’t do now!

  • February 28, 2012 Charlotte

    Oh, this was so beautiful. I think it’s such a wonderful thing to witness a child step out of his/her familiar comfort zone and embrace a new experience. And everyone does it at a different pace. I’m just glad that you don’t push, but that you stand back proudly and watch it all unfold πŸ™‚ What a kind, gentle momma you are.

    Charlotte recently wrote…Just as I amMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you for your kind words, Charlotte. Most days, I’m just flailing and hope for the best πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Katie E

    Sweet, Alison. And you should be proud of him. It’s hard to realize that sometimes it’s our own expectations that are the problem. And you’ll learn with the second that it’s even weirder to experience the differences between your children and having different expectations for different children. (Wow, that’s a lot of use of the word different.)
    Katie E recently wrote…Why You Shouldn’t Cut Your Daughter’s HairMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I know, fun and interesting times ahead! πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Debra

    Very sweet post. It’s your love for him that makes your mind wonder…and then what joy it is to see him enjoying life, laughing and having a ball (literally) that makes everything all right again!
    Debra recently wrote…Reading To Kids Is FUNdamental!My Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      He is a joyous child πŸ™‚ Thank you Debra!

  • February 28, 2012 Eve

    Oh Alison, we have so much in common! A few months ago I took my son, who was 18 months at the time, to his first sign language class. It’s one of those “Sing to me, Sign to me” classes where everyone sings and signs to communicate. He kept heading for the door and trying to unlock it. I was embarassed at first, but then realized he wasn’t the only kid heading for the door. Two other toddlers also tried to escape! As the hour progressed, I started to feel less and less embarassed that my boy wasn’t participating. All kids grow and learn at different times. It’s hard because we want so badly for them to “get” everything so quickly, but I think we just need to let them be who they are and grow at their own pace. Also? He got better as the classes continued. Your little Monkey will be just fine!!
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you for sharing your story, Eve! It’s reassuring to know that it’s perfectly normal – not all toddlers jump right into things and it’s totally okay. I think he just needs time to warm up and get used to it and we’ll be A-OK πŸ™‚

  • February 28, 2012 Jaime

    I hate when my own expectations are bigger than my reality. I was always worried because Annabelle was slower than most other kids getting into things. Now I try to relax myself but it doesn’t always work out.
    Jaime recently wrote…IrrationalMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I’ve learned to deal with my own expectations, and just go with the flow. Yes it doesn’t always work, but kudos to you for trying!

  • February 28, 2012 Robin

    Aw, I know that feeling. I’m glad he found a piece of it to join in on.

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I told the gym director today that they should just have a bubble machine on 24/7 πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Tricia

    So lovely. My daughter is similar to your son and I react similarly to her – always wanting to push her to jump in and play. It takes time to get to the point where we realize they will forge their own paths. But it’s so lovely to watch when they do.

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      The natural urge is to encourage, but I find that with my son, letting him dictate his own pace works better!

  • February 29, 2012 Runnermom-jen

    I think it’s awesome that you embrace him for who he is and who he is becoming. Forcing something or someone to do things isn’t good for either one of you.
    Beautiful picture to go along with your beautiful words. xo

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jen and I agree!

  • February 29, 2012 Pam

    Aw, sweet little guy. My son was like that too–wary, cautious. He grew up to be a fine young man (with a gifted IQ !) They are each so unique and special and treasured.
    Pam recently wrote…Featured!My Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Okay, the gifted IQ part is good to know!

  • February 29, 2012 Bonnie Way

    Beautiful! I think too often we do push our kids to do things that we want them to do, rather than encouraging them to find the things they want to do. πŸ™‚ We have a great playgroup near us and over a year, I watched as various kids of various ages participating in various ways… including my own. My youngest went from being a very shy mommy’s girl who would cling to me the whole time, to finding a place where she was comfortable and at home and could run around playing with the toys, knowing that I was sitting only a few feet away chatting with another mom. Sometimes it just takes time. πŸ™‚ Cute story and a cute picture! Thanks for sharing.
    Bonnie Way recently wrote…Family Night with The VoiceMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Bonnie. I know I just have to give my son time πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Katie

    Alison, this was so touching. I was a different kid. I didn’t show interest in the things other kids showed interest in. I had a supportive mother like you who allowed me to grow in my own way, at my own pace. And I’m a happy, unique, and loving individual. As I’m sure your son will be too.

    Beautiful post!
    Katie recently wrote…Evening the ScoreMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Katie, that is so good to know because you’re awesome πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Kimberly

    I know this feeling. I went through it myself and I’ve watched my kids do it too. It’s hard to know when to encourage and when to just let them figure it out on their own. Sometimes I do think our expectations get in the way.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Blissdom 2012My Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Yeah, darn expectations. I’m trying to temper them and just go with the flow. HIS flow.

  • February 29, 2012 ML

    My boys have both been very eager to try new things but my daughter is more cautious. It’s hard for me to remember to see her as an individual sometimes. We just have to let our kids take the lead.
    ML recently wrote…Reaching for WordsMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Yes, that is true – to let him take the lead. I have to remind my inner control freak of that constantly πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Ado

    Such a sweet post.
    I remember taking Ella to Music Together classes when she was that age and feeling exactly the same angst. Exactly.
    I reminded myself though that I prefer people (and probably kids) who march to the beat of their own drummer. (-:

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I’ve always thought of myself as someone who dances to her own tune, and have always liked that about myself. So yes, I’m definitely going to let Monkey do the same!

  • February 29, 2012 Robbie

    What a thoughtful description of your son’s tempermant.Sounds like he does things on his own time in his own way.
    Robbie recently wrote…Exercise Class Drop OutMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Yes, that’s exactly what he’s like πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 bottleinfrontofme

    Nice Post, its great that not all kids are the same. Unfortunatley our son has autistic disorder,so he remained that bit different πŸ˜‰

  • February 29, 2012 thepsychobabble

    What a sweet post:) It’s hard to let go sometimes when they don’t fit our expectations
    thepsychobabble recently wrote…Morning TimeMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Hence, the adjusting of expectations is required – not always an easy thing to do πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Natalie

    I think they all have moments like this. And some of them are naturally more adventurous than others. But they are all wonderful, just the way they are.
    Natalie recently wrote…Crows and BabiesMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Yes, yes they are!

  • February 29, 2012 Carolyn

    Wow, this was great. It’s amazing what we “see” when we truly look at our children.
    And I often wonder what they wonder, when they see something new.
    Carolyn recently wrote…Lemon Lentil Soup {Recipe + Giveaway}My Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      I’m constantly wondering what he’s wondering about πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 jlweinberg/jen

    So very beautifully well written. You are the perfect mama for him. He’s a lucky boy!
    jlweinberg/jen recently wrote…Running Out Of OrgasmMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Aw, thank you Jen! I’m just muddling through this motherhood gig really.

  • February 29, 2012 Sara

    This post brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful mother you are!

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Sara!

  • February 29, 2012 Kiddothings

    This brought back memories of gymboree classes with my son. I’ve learnt to let go of my own insecurities since then and just let my kids be themselves. I think we dreaded those classes more than he did.
    Kiddothings recently wrote…Picnesday – Destined For….My Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Yes! I’m trying to be positive and upbeat when we go to his classes – I think he can sense trepidation and anxiety from me. Wish me luck!

  • February 29, 2012 HouseTalkN

    This is so touching. I can so relate.
    The first summer that we spent at the pool, my firstborn sat watching all the other children romping and splashing. He meticulously lined up his trains and cars.
    It sounds insane now, but it was the first time that I really, truly realized that he was going to be his own little man. Not a mini-me afterall. No belly flopping or cannonballs for him.
    He left the pool every single day with a dry head and his trains safely tucked in his bag.
    At the end of the summer, he said “That pool was a fun thing.” I realized that just because he wasn’t having my kind of fun, didn’t mean that he wasn’t finding his own fun.

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      That is such a wonderful story, thank you for sharing. And I love that part about him finding his own fun. That’s what I want for my toddler!

  • February 29, 2012 Catheryn

    You’ve got a smart, wise and intelligent little prince there. πŸ™‚

    Great job Mummy!
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    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Catheryn!

  • February 29, 2012 Daisy Nguyen

    Being cautious is a good thing! Encourage him to continue to listen to his gut – and let him feel comfortable and take his time. As we grow up, it takes courage to step back and do things differently than the norm. You’re a great mom for giving him the time to process!
    Daisy Nguyen recently wrote…That Awkward Moment When You Realize You Have Back FatMy Profile

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Daisy, that is great advice!

  • February 29, 2012 tracy

    Love how well you know and respect him. This is so first child. Really. Mine is the same. Still at nine sometimes her little sisters have to hold her hand and lead her into something. xo

    • February 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Tracy. Eloise is a remarkable girl!! xo

  • February 29, 2012 Kerstin

    Wonderful! I see a lot of that in my son, he’s always been a little different – still is, actually.
    You really nailed it with your comment about your expectations – I am so guilty of that.
    I think I expect too much of my kids sometimes and forget to enjoy the moment. Glad you managed to enjoy πŸ™‚
    Kerstin recently wrote…Proud Parenting MomentsMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I spent more time wondering what was wrong, until towards the end of the class when it struck me – he’s not going to be this age forever. Why am I stressing over something so minute and missing out on him as he is now?

      That was a lesson learned.

  • February 29, 2012 Stasha

    My boy was the same at Gymbabes. How I used to dread going there. But once I took the time to get to know him I really started enjoying him. Good on you for realizing that early on.
    Just last week Little J told me he is thinking about going to ballet. See…
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I think Monkey will be able to pick up on my dread so I’m going to try and be positive and upbeat each time we go to class, with no expectations πŸ™‚

      Ballet? Let me know how that goes πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 XLMIC

    I love that photo. Gosh…he sounds so much like my oldest who has always been an ‘observer’…taking everything in before taking any action. It always seemed so counter to the ‘normal’ headlong dive into life most toddlers around us seemed to exhibit…but I kind of like the cautious approach myself πŸ™‚
    XLMIC recently wrote…The Big Boy HikeMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I’m beginning to think it’s really not a bad thing πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Mamamzungu

    I just love kids like yours. They’re cautious and loving and sensitive. My nephew was the same way – the last to join in something new. But eventually he warms up and becomes fully and joyfully engaged. And as he’s gotten older and more sure of the world he’s been able to leave his mom’s arms more readily and with more confidence. Your son sounds absolutely perfect!
    Mamamzungu recently wrote…Baby Removal Surgery – Part IIMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you for sharing your nephew’s experience – it’s reassuring to know that they WILL grow into their own in their own time.

  • Such a lovely post – so nice that you appreciate him for who he is. He’s a lucky boy πŸ™‚ I have one of these kids too – a slow to warm up, homebody, craves the familiar. She is absolutely brilliant and loving and wonderful, but at 14, although definitely braver and more outgoing, she’s essentially still the same. And I wouldn’t have it any other way πŸ™‚

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      You’re a great mom, Susanna!

  • February 29, 2012 Klz

    He is lucky to have a mama who loves him so

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      It’s impossible to not love a head hugger, y’know?

  • February 29, 2012 JDaniel4's Mom

    He is so blessed to have you in his corner. He is truly special in the way that he thinks and does things. How great that he is leader and not a follower.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I love that perspective- a leader and not a follower πŸ™‚

  • February 29, 2012 Kristen

    My oldest daughter is always cautious and I have learned over almost 10 years that it makes her the rock for all of her true friends. She is the one they turn to for sound advice even at this young age. She has a big heart and I can see from all of your writings that Monkey has one too. He is going to be a wonderful big brother!
    Kristen recently wrote…Missing The Moments…My Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Oh, I sure hope so!

  • February 29, 2012 Leighann

    Our children don’t fit the molds that society sets out for them and I’m so proud of you for writing about it.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Leighann!

  • February 29, 2012 Stacey

    This is so beautifully written. My oldest son is very much like this. He has always hung back a little, wanting to be sure of his environment before diving in. After he joins in (in his own time), he somehow exudes this calm confidence that the other children just love. I can tell your son will be the same.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Stacey, that is so reassuring, thank you!

  • February 29, 2012 Barbara

    You have nothing to be worried about. You should be proud that he does his own thing.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I’m realizing that now πŸ™‚

  • Reading this post was like being wrapped in a warm cocoon on this dreary day. What a beautiful piece on a mother’s love, on acceptance, and on the realization that our children are their own persons. Ellen

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Ellen for your kind words!

  • March 1, 2012 julie gardner

    I will admit that over the past fourteen years of raising my son there have been many moments where I had similar thoughts…

    I’m not proud to admit I’ve wondered if life could have been easier if he were more like everyone else.

    And the truth is, in many ways, it would be easier.


    It wouldn’t be life with my Jack. And he still brings tears of joy to my eyes when I least expect it. Thanks for reminding me how very proud I am of him.

    The word extra-ordinary exists for a reason.

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      You always make me feel better with your comments, Julie.

      I know what you mean by easier – Monkey has never been easy. But then, he wouldn’t be the boy I love so much.

      You’re extraordinary.

  • March 1, 2012 nikky44

    I loved this. It reminds me of how I was (and still am). My parents and teachers have tried everything to make me socialize with others. I was too shy, but it was mainly that I had different interests, always too grown up for my age, too mature.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I think we should all be allowed to grow into our own, at our own pace. I hope you’re at a good place now!

  • March 1, 2012 Susan

    Dane has been doing the same thing at classes… and it’s so hard not to push him into the middle of the group! This is really lovely, and also a great reminder that each of our children is an individual, independent soul. Thanks!
    Susan recently wrote…Lack of Sleep + Whole Foods = Spilled MilkMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes they are! I never wanted to fit into a mould – so why should I make my son? πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 Jessica

    That is the best gift you can give him, accepting him just as he is. Love this Alison.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jessica. It means a lot to me that you love this post πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 stephanie

    Love the way you wrote in the second person, directly to your son. Sweet. I believe more parents ought to do that for their kids. They’ll want to read it years later. I don’t have kids of my own but I’ve been doing it for my niece. I so wish my mother would have written a few things down. So I love it, and he will too, and so will the new one!
    stephanie recently wrote…She’s Not my Mom!My Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      This blog is in part a massive love letter to my boys πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 Kimberly

    I really love this Alison.
    I love that you are allowing to be just the way he is without forcing him to be like other children. You are fostering him.
    That is the best thing a parent can do.
    and love on them πŸ™‚
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Aw thanks Kim. There is no forcing with the Monkey. He’s just too much of an individual πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 Just Jennifer

    Some kids just get overwhelmed by all that activity. Maybe it was too chaotic, but the balls and bubbles gave him something to focus on.

    Really sweet post!
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I was overwhelmed by the activity, never mind him πŸ™‚ Yes I think the balls and the bubbles were familiar items to him, so it did give him a focus. Also, he was relaxing into the environment by then.

  • March 1, 2012 Jessica

    Some kids don’t like to jump in right away, it’s better to sit back and evaluate what’s going on. That is perfectly okay.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes it is. I hope that quality will serve him well in later life.

  • March 1, 2012 Lady Jennie

    My kids are not at all clingy but so many of my friends’ kids are so I really understand it. There are so many different type of people so it’s not surprising that there would be that many different types of kids.

    Thank goodness or life would be really boring.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes it would!!

  • March 1, 2012 Leslie

    Awww! I was so much like that when I was young. I’m sure that if you decide to go again, he’ll probably get more and more involved…especially when he remembers the balls and bubbles!
    Leslie recently wrote…DIY Decor Around the HouseMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      We’re going weekly. Our 2nd time wasn’t a great success for the first half, but he eventually warmed up and started to relax into the environment. Let’s hope next week is better!

  • March 1, 2012 My Inner Chick

    —Mama A,
    I choked up reading this lovely post.

    Especially the last line: “So as I sit, outside looking in at you, my son, know that Mama is proud of you. Always.”

    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Don’t Stop BelievingMy Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Kim. Thank you for reading and smiling/ crying along with me always.

  • March 1, 2012 Mary Trunk

    My daughter’s nursery school teacher told me she was “slow to warm.” She’s always been an observer. I spent an entire summer (and paid for it too) watching her sit on the edge of the pool while the swimming teacher taught all the other kids. She refused to go in the pool. No tantrums, just wouldn’t do it. And I didn’t make her. At the end of the summer we were invited to swim in our neighbor’s pool and the kid had watched so closely she could practically swim on her own. No fear at all. She’s now ten, has her own video channel, writes plays, performs in them and is still quiet, introspective and an observer. Your son reminds me so much of her. Thanks for the post.

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Your daughter sounds wonderful and amazing. I hope my son turns out half as well πŸ™‚

  • Awww, Alison this is so special. I love the way you set it up as I would have a similar reaction, wishing hoping mine would do what all the other kids do, but then I love that you sit and accept his way. And that his way is similar to how he has always been. Beautiful for both of you and the last line, perfection:)
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Shannon! I love my boy, every little bit of him.

  • I know exactly what you mean. The Little Dude is very similar in many ways and as a father it can get frustrating when all the kids are climbing on the playground and mine won’t even go by himself. Then again, when I help him I get a few more minutes of that special time.

    Beautifully expressed post, Alison.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I love that perspective – that you get a few more moments with him. Thank you Jay.

  • March 1, 2012 Elaine

    My G is similar in situations like this. He doesn’t want to participate in group stuff too much, like at story time, in school, etc. It’s probably just part of their personalities but I TOTALLY understand the Momma urge to WANT them to participate SO badly.

    And yes, always PROUD! xo
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      You know, I am much the same – I never really liked participating in group stuff when I was a kid. I shouldn’t be surprised Monkey has that part of me in him πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 Bruna

    I have a cautious 3 and a half year old. Takes her a long time to warm up in new environments and around strange people. So normal for little ones.
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    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      I’m beginning to see that now, with everyone sharing their stories πŸ™‚

  • March 1, 2012 Melinda

    I’m 37 yo and it still takes me time to warm up sometimes to new things. Just let him go at his own pace, he’ll appreciate it more too.

    (stopping by from sits, glad I found you)
    Melinda recently wrote…You Are….My Profile

    • March 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Melinda, you’re absolutely right of course. I need to let him develop at his own pace.

      (thank you for stopping by!)

  • March 2, 2012 Trish in AZ

    You very nearly described me at that age. Over 45 years later and I still feel the same reluctance, the same caution.

    The flip side? I was never one to make rash decisions and yet I am very decisive because I study situations and apply all that I learn from previous situations to each new challenge.

    Like all things, the flaws and attributes of a character trait balance out. He will be a steady man whose judgement you can trust.
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    • March 2, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Trish, for your comment. I certainly hope my boy will be the kind of man you describe πŸ™‚

  • March 2, 2012 deborah l quinn

    It’s such an irony, isn’t it–that we want our kids to “be their own person” and yet…we want them to conform: play when it’s time for gymboree, do the gymnastics, clap their hands with the other kids…It’s a tough line to walk, but your post hits it just right: we have to find a way to be proud of who they are, in exactly the way that they are.
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    • March 2, 2012 Alison

      It is a hard balance. I think it’s a parent’s instinct to want their children to ‘fit in’, so that it’s ‘easier’ for them – but who are we to say it’s harder to be their own person? The best way is to let them find their own path with our guidance.

  • March 2, 2012 Janice

    Sometimes I feel like this too. I wonder why my child doesn’t do this or that. But then I remind myself that each kid is on his/her own time… It’s good to remind ourselves to not worry about conforming to what others their age are doing. To each his own. Right?
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    • March 2, 2012 Alison

      Yes, absolutely!

  • March 2, 2012 Jamie

    Oh lord do I struggle with this. The oldest is/was annoyingly shy – and isn’t that even the worst way to say it?? He’s slowly gotten out of it and it makes me feel worse for not embracing him/it when it was happening. Good for you for recognizing who he is and not what you want him to be!
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    • March 2, 2012 Alison

      It’s taken me a little while to see that it’s pointless to force Monkey into situations. I’ll still bring him to the gym class but I’m going to let him dictate the pace to which he wants to participate. It’s going to take a while, but I hope that eventually, he’ll find a place in that class (and in society) that fits him just right.

  • March 2, 2012 Tonya

    We walk a fine line as mothers… letting them be and letting them go HAS to be the toughest part!

    Beautiful post, Alison!
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    • March 2, 2012 Alison

      It is a tough line, it gets blurry sometimes, doesn’t it?

      And thank you!

  • March 3, 2012 Kate

    This made me think of my reactions over the years with my own sons. Sometimes I was able to sit back and let them be and other times I was not (I wish I could take back a few). It’s difficult to know as a mom when we need to push our children to move forward or when we need to meet them where they are. This is a beautiful example of the tug-a-war we have inside ourselves and how sometimes loving them for who they are in that moment is what is best!

    • March 4, 2012 Alison

      It is a constant tug-of-war, and I just have to keep reminding myself that I have to give him a chance first to be himself.

      I anticipate that there will be more situations where this back and forth will happen.

  • March 4, 2012 Elena

    Alison, I could have written this post when Lanagan was about 1 1/2. I would take him to Gymboree (toddler gym classes) and if he wasn’t doing the things that others were, I’d stress. And I mean STRESS. So much so that my husband was very close to having it where he was the one to take him. Then, just like monkey, when he found something that he liked, he was almost the leader of the pack. I guess sometimes we do have to sit back and just wait, watch and learn from these little ones. πŸ™‚
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    • March 4, 2012 Alison

      We haven’t found our footing in the class yet. The 2nd one didn’t start well – he cried for the first 15 minutes! But he eventually relaxed a little, but we still did our own thing, only entering the circle in the last 10 minutes. Progress? Hard to say. We’ll just have to keep going and see how we go!

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Alison Profile PictureI'm Alison. Writer, a mother of four (two boys and boy/ girl twins), social media enthusiast and book lover. A believer in the power of chocolate and hugs. Chugging coffee as I type. Want to know more?

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