Wednesday, February 29, 2012

he's okay, i'm okay

Yesterday, my husband and I were picking the kids up from daycare and one of the teachers asked us if W is talking at all at home. "Huh?" I said to myself? You  mean my chatty little toddler is not chatting well at daycare? And they explained that they rarely hear him speak at all, not to teachers or students. I assured them up and down that W is chatty, that he talks in short sentences, and that I hear new words almost every day, many of which he's learning at daycare and which I'm taking as a good sign that daycare is a fine place for him to be. It's all true--he is chatty. He does talk a lot. And he's still mimicking us and then using those new words in sentences of his own design.

I've been mulling it all over, though, and am concerned. I don't particularly like his current teacher, and I have a sense (rightly or wrongly, I'm not sure) that she's the kind of teacher--a very common kind, I might add--who tends to reward louder or more demanding kids. What I mean is that there are studies to show that kids who act out or who are loud and boisterous tend to get more face-time and attention from teachers because they demand it. My kid, however, is shaping up to be more like I was as a child: sensitive, able to go along with the flow, shy, and not necessarily demanding anything from anyone. I hated teachers who put me on the spot (as this teacher does in "circle time") or who repeatedly asked me questions when I just wasn't in the mood to talk.

I have a feeling that W would be far happier at a montessori or montessori-like school, but there aren't any nearby or convenient. The closest one that I've heard rave reviews of would add 45 minutes to an hour to my already long (45 minute) commute to and from work. Impossible.

So do I leave my kid where he is and hope for the best? Do I assume that he'll start adapting to this environment, or that his current adaptation will just work okay? He doesn't seem worse for the wear. He's usually smiling when I pick him up from daycare. And while he's not smiling when I drop him off, the other kids aren't either.

As I think it through, I'm also reflecting on what I would have wanted as a child. I went to a montessori preschool for about six months when I was four or so and I remember loving it. It was one of the few childhood school environments I think fondly of; the rest all blur together in a haze of dodgeball, disappointment in my peers' reading levels, and general boredom. In the end, I wasn't the worse for the wear, either. I have a Ph.D., for crying out loud, so I found a love of learning and school despite those bad early experiences. I imagine that happened in large part because of my mother, who guided me toward a love of books from day one (as I will guide my kids to do as well). The shyness did suck during high school and college--hell, it still sucks today--but this might just be who I am.

Our kids are little reflections of ourselves. They show us who we are today, who we were, and who we wish we were and are. They're more than reflections of course--they are their own full people and I don't mean to suggest that they only exist for me to understand myself. But it seems clear today that part of parenting is self-reflection, as painful and awkward as it is.

I have no clear answers about what I'll do. I suspect we'll keep him where he is and see what happens next. If he doesn't start feeling comfortable enough to speak at daycare, perhaps we'll revisit.

By the way, I owe you all a quick update on the post-partum anxiety front: the anxiety is slowly going away! It's not completely gone and I still catch myself doing the ocd behaviors around bedtime and nursing at night, but they're quieter and less intrusive. The anxiety is not crushing or panicky. I think the post-partum hormones must be easing off and I'm returning to my normal levels. Life is feeling more relaxing by the day. Good news, right?


  1. Great news about the PPA going away!

    I can sympathize on the daycare front. Although our situation is different, this has been an enormous source of stress for me. The nagging questions have to do with our ability to intervene. How much has to do with the place and how much is the kid? I look forward to writing about this soon but I have found a fantastic place for g (he hasn't officially started yet, however) and I think that there are places that do particularly well with sensitive kids. I imagine that you don't have much time to dedicate to this but it may be worthwhile to try and find a better fit for W. Trust your instincts. They are likely to be right.

  2. First, I am so glad to hear the positive update on the anxiety front. Second, I could have written (and already have, in draft form) a large part of this post--everything about the personal shyness that now seems to be emerging in my 2 year old. I have been worried about B lately, too, with how quiet he is with other kids and how scared he seems to be of other kids at the playground. Sometimes I wish they had a camera at our daycare so I could get a better sense of what he actually DOES all day...he is usually pretty happy at pick-up (goes through phases at drop-off of crying for a few minutes, but usually after being away for a few days). The lead teacher in his room seems to have a special thing for I'm not worried about him being ignored, but I definitely know what you are talking about re: favoring the louder ones. That's how I faded into the woodwork my whole life---still a major problem for me in academia. I agree with slowmamma about trusting your gut...I probably need to do the same myself...

  3. These are such great comments. First, yes. I do need to trust my gut. Even though things went well the next day, as mentioned in my update post, W is still a shy kid and I'm still not crazy about this teacher. I'm going to tour another facility next week, just to see what options exist, even if they're not montessori. Thanks for the reminder about instincts, slowmamma. You are absolutely right.

    Ana, I've had the same problem my whole life--I wonder if lots of us in academia have. That's a post for another day, I think. But yes, I really wish I knew how W acted all day. I know how he is before/after and I know what his teachers say in two-minute conversations every day or so, but a camera (with sound) would be so great. I've heard of such daycare perks, but ours doesn't have anything that sophisticated. Great to hear that you have a kind lead teacher. W's previous teacher was like that--she clearly liked my boy and in return, he and I really liked her.

    I do know that toddlers are strange social beings. They don't really know what to do with each other yet, and they're watching us adults to get some cues about how it works. And shyness isn't all that bad. I wish I was more comfortable socially, but I've gotten along pretty well in spite of the shyness. I've found people and places that are okay with who I am, and if W is like me, he will, too. So will B, I'm sure. We should check in about this again soon--it's so good to know I'm not the only one worried about a shy toddler!

    1. Yes, its good to know I'm not alone...I feel like the rest of the kids in B's classroom, and our friends' kids are much louder & more outgoing than B...though I have a similar update with B running to his teacher yesterday morning yelling her name without a backward glance and also getting reports the past couple of days that "wow he's speaking in sentences" (odd because he's been doing that at home for MONTHS).
      I have a post brewing about shyness and how it affected my life.