Friday, September 09, 2011

ZooTwos! (and a Mommy Confession)

Last Saturday, Kate and I went to our first session of ZooTwos, a program offered by the Nashville Zoo. Every Saturday morning for six weeks, we'll go for an hour of parent-child fun with an animal-related lesson, a craft and story, and we get to meet two animals each week up close. (They offer separate classes for toddlers, twos, threes, and I think older kids, with a weekday session and a Saturday session for us M-F working parents.)

This first week, we talked about animal tracks and walked around the room to look at several types of prints (printed on paper and adhered to the floor), then came back to the circle for our animal meet-and-greet with an opossum named Penelope and a rabbit named Amelia.
 Zoo lady holding opossum

Other kids touching rabbit

Kate didn't want to touch the animals; I'm not sure why, and she even declined the hand sanitizer brought around after the animals--I figured she'd take that even though she hadn't touched the animals! We then did a craft--decorating a mitten-shaped piece of paper with animal stamps and crayons--and came back to the circle for our story, The Mitten, about a boy who loses his snow-white mitten in the snow and a bunch of animals decide to squeeze into it all together.

Kate seemed to enjoy the class, and was very well-behaved. The kids had to sit either on their parent's lap or on the carpet square in front of the chair, and would be asked to step out if they couldn't sit still--which a couple kids didn't! When a parent took her child out, Kate said to me quietly, "They didn't listen." Nope, they didn't. Not like she's a perfect listener--especially at home--but she's much more subdued in public and in large groups.

Which brings me to my Mommy Confession... I don't know what to make of the fact that Kate is apparently pretty quiet and reserved in groups of other children. She's always been such a live wire at home--totally fearless, loud, silly, sassy--Matt and I assumed she would be the same as she got into social situations, and we were glad that hopefully she wouldn't deal with the same social awkwardness and insecurity that plagued both of us. She's never shown separation anxiety and seems comfortable with new people--being a PK and being in day care from four months onward have their benefits. However, teachers (at her old school and now here too) tell us how quiet she is at school. They have to ask her to speak up, and she's more passive in her interactions with other kids. I'm glad she's well-behaved at school, of course--and I know it's normal for kids to "let it all out" at home--but I just hope that confidence and bold personality we see in her doesn't get hidden away when around her peers.

I frame all this as a confession because I feel guilty for giving any of this a second thought.

We think she's amazing and love her no matter what. But when she was the only child not to touch the animals at ZooTwos, my immediate concern was that she would regret not seizing the opportunity--a silly thing to worry about, I guess, since toddlers mainly live in the moment and probably do not really experience "regret" the way us older people do. She's excited to go back, so I don't think it tarnished her experience in any way. It's fine if she just didn't want to touch the animals, for whatever reason, and if she's shyer than we thought she would be, but I worry about her missing out or (and this is my real concern) having a tough time socially as she gets older.

Am I overreacting? It's natural for parents to want their kids to have an easier time than they did (and for Matt and I, making friends and being social in large groups were our main challenges) but we turned out fine and I really embrace my introversion. Actually, I don't call Kate an introvert because she doesn't seem to need time alone or to get drained by other people. I guess you can be a quiet extrovert? Whatever. No need for labels anyway--other than "awesome," which she is :0)

What's your confession this week? 


Katie Bug said...

That class sounds like so much fun!
I can understand your concerns...and feeling uneasy about being concerned.
Kate actually sounds a lot like my sister. She was (and is) wild, crazy, hilarious, and completely entertaining at home...but when she got (or gets) in larger groups she tends to get very quiet.
I'm pretty much the opposite. I was the quiet, "easy" kid at home...but my public persona is much more extroverted.
As an adult, I really feel like my sister's friendships are deeper and richer than mine. I think that has something to do with the fact that she has been busy working hard on a handful of friendships, while I have been 'touching base' with a large amount of friends.

Kristen P said...

I am a "quiet extrovert" myself. In new and unfamiliar situations, I tend to just want to observe and listen. That's pretty much how I've always been. I hate being the center of attention unless I am truly comfortable around the people I'm with, and that takes time. But I am by no means anti-social or shy, really, just a little reserved. This could be the case with Kate. Maybe once she gets used to going to the zoo she'll want to touch more of the animals. Maybe opossums look weird or scary to her!


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