Adelae is shy. Like really shy. Like “I’d rather poop my pants at school than tell the teacher I have to go potty” shy. I think I broke her. I think I might have told her to “be careful” or “stop doing that!” one too many times. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve somehow made her this way. She won’t talk to other kids because she doesn’t remember their names. She’s petrified of adults. That includes her aunts and uncles, teachers, and sometimes even her grandparents.
You can see the moment the shyness starts to overtake her. She starts scrunching the bottom of her shirt in her hands. Her head drops down. Then her shoulders start to round. It’s like she goes into a protective stance, as if she’s afraid she’s going to be hurt. We went to Build A Bear the other day and I thought Adelae was going to have a nervous breakdown when the worker was talking to her. She was scrunching her shirt so hard that she left wrinkles. Adelae was so hunched over I thought she was going to contort into a ball. It’s painful to watch.
I want to jump in and answer all the questions for her. I want to scoop her up and tell her that she doesn’t have to talk to anyone. I want to keep her home so that she doesn’t have to endure this every day at school. Her teachers tell me that she’s fine with the other girls in her class, but not the boys or the teachers. (I’m ok with her being shy around boys. That can last until she’s well into her 20’s.) But, I know that’s not the right thing to do. After all, it’s not like she cries when I drop her off at school, or anywhere else for that matter. She happily gets ready, jumps out of the car and races to her classroom. But, she does poop her pants because she’s too afraid to tell the teachers she needs to use the restroom. She goes with out eating her lunch because she won’t raise her hand to ask the teacher to help her open the containers. It hurts my heart. It makes me sad that I can’t be there to remind her to use the restroom, or to open her containers. Or to just hold her and make sure she’s ok.
And I blame myself. I’ve gotten better, but I’m an overprotective mother. I’ve said “Be careful!” more times than I can even imagine. I’m petrified of my kids being kidnapped, so I’ve always told her to NEVER talk to strangers unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s ok. In hindsight, I may have gone overboard. And now I’ve broken my baby. I can’t fix her. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to give her the confidence she needs. We try to come up with suggestions to help her at school, but then she’s too shy to even raise her hand. When she talks to me about it, she gets teary eyed. She WANTS to be more confident, but she just doesn’t know how. And I don’t know how to help her. I feel like a failure as a mother. I know that underneath that shy exterior is a wonderful little girl. She’s smart and funny. She’s a wonderful sister and friend. She’s so much more than the girl that hides in the corner. How can I give her that confidence? How can I right my wrongs?