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‘She’s like a magnet for people, isn’t she?’ he said.
We were sitting, as we do every Friday morning, enjoying our Starbucks mummy/daughter treat when this comment was offered. My little girl was chattering away to, well, everyone really, about her new colouring book.
As she coloured, she gave a running commentary. Everyone near us stopped to listen.
A woman sitting with her two children smiled. Her older daughter looked on. Fascinated. Completely engaged, as my little girl explained that it was a Sophia colouring book; do you like Sophia?
The man, a regular who we often see, laughed as my daughter asked do you want to do some colouring?
I’m used to the effect my daughter has on people. She is outgoing, confident, friendly, kind.
But, a magnet? Well, I hadn’t thought of her like that before.
To be honest, I’m generally more aware of how overwhelming she can be. How in your face. How enthusiastic and opinionated and demanding.
Frankly, I am often cringing inside as I try to reign her in. Just a little. I can’t bear the thought of squashing that wonderful personality, but sometimes I wish she was just a little less. Less loud, less outgoing, less gregarious.
But then she might also be less friendly, less inclusive, less thoughtful. Less her.
My internal cringing says far more about me than it does her.
But, I’m finding the parenting of this bundle of confidence difficult. The truth is, having such an extrovert child is exhausting; it is constant, it is draining.
In social situations where I might stay on the edge, I can’t. She does the butting in for me. Where I might stay quiet and just listen, I can’t. She’s right there in the middle of the conversation.
I need to strike a balance between encouraging her confidence, and teaching her restraint and social intelligence. I need to teach her that not everyone is as confident as she is, that she needs to tread more lightly sometimes.
I have to check my own natural tendency towards shyness. She is not me, and I should not expect her to be, or react, like me. I must not hold her back because I feel awkward.
It is wonderful that she is outgoing and fearless, and it will ultimately stand her in good stead.
So, I need to focus on doing my job right. On teaching her to remain kind and thoughtful, to have empathy. To understand when other children find her enthusiasm over whelming; to step back and wait for them to join her. And, to accept that not all of them will.
I need to stop worrying that she is too much, because she’s just right.
Back in Starbucks, the woman and her children got up to leave. Before they did they came over to my daughter. The mother said that her daughter wanted to ask her a question. The wee girl looked up and smiled, but the other girl was too shy. So her mother asked for her. Did my daughter go to dance classes (she was in her ballet clothes)? Where did she do dance? Would she like a sticker?
My daughter chatted, chose a sticker, said goodbye. The other girl left smiling.
Every time I find myself cringing or making apologies for her pushiness, I need to remember this. I need to remember that little girl who left smiling.
And the little boy who had watched all the while, and came over and shared his snack with her. And the brother and sister who arrived a little later, and invited her to join in their game when she asked if she could play with them.
She thrives in company. She excels at social interactions. She is not yet four and she is more adept at them than her mother.
She is an extrovert.
My most important job is to make sure that no one, including me, ever makes her feel like she shouldn’t be.
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