The crazy and the awesome and, also, just a little bit of the adorable.
March 16, 2012

A few weeks ago, someone said something innocuous to me at a play-date (“your daughter is so calm, just taking everything in”) and I went home and bawled my eyes out to Donald about how our daughter is doomed.

To say that it took my husband by surprise is a bit of an understatement.  I’ve always had periodic moments of acting like a completely unreasonable moron, but I’m not particularly prone to tears.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  So he knew that whatever it was that I was upset about must be Very Serious and that is how we wound up having A Very Somber Discussion at 11 o’clock in the evening.  On a school night.  (I don’t know why I still call weeknights “school nights” when nobody is going to school the next morning?!)

About.

-

Um.

Okay, about whether or not Charlotte is a social outcast.

Because she loves to watch other children at play but isn’t always so keen on jumping into the fun herself.  And CLEARLY, if you are to follow my particularly convoluted brand of logic, having the brains to not get pummeled on the playground by children three times your size makes you a social outcast.  Or something.  I’m not sure.

My only defense is that it made sense to me when I was blubbering on about it, but in retrospect it seems about 275% ridiculous.  It is to Donald’s credit that he never once made me feel like a fool for worrying about the social development of a child not yet old enough to stop herself from screaming I HAVE A BIG BOOGER IN MY NOSE! at the grocery.  (Sigh.)

By the following morning, I had basically forgotten about the whole thing (see also: 275% ridiculous) and then this week something happened that suddenly brought the whole thing back to mind.

That is: on four separate occasions this week, Charlotte had the opportunity to interact with other children…and she did.  When we spent time with Desmond and Mallory (AND ISLA! AND SCARLET! DO NOT FORGET THEM, MOMMA! THEY NEED ME TO MAKE THEM LAUGH! REMEMBER!), Charlotte and Desmond spent time chasing each other.  Chasing!  And giggling!  And shouting instructions in Toddler-ese to one another (like: GIVE ME THE BALL!).  And at the playground, Charlotte leached on to a girl half her age and helped her (rather roughly, we’ll have to work on that) navigate tunnels and slides and stairs, chatting to her the whole time (“take a big step now! You did it! Now another! You did it! Ooh, I love your shoes! Momma, do you see her shoes?  OH NO, THE BABY IS PULLING MY HAIR! THIS IS BAD! I DO NOT LIKE THIS!”).

And then when we had a buddy over at our house, the two kids (separated in age by only a couple months) spent nearly three hours entertaining each other – chasing each other, making believe games together, talking to one another about what they should do next, feeding chickens together, exploring together.  And then at the playground again, Charlotte found a kid a few years older than her who taught her the highly sophisticated rules to hide-and-seek, a game that Charlotte has been addicted to ever since.

All of it made my heart leap, and surprisingly not because I was relieved that she was engaging other children in active play.  Instead, it made my heart leap simply because OH MY GOODNESS, have you ever heard two small children try to communicate with each other?  With their high-pitched little voices and their sketchy enunciation?  SO. STINKING. CUTE.

Two-year-olds, taking over the world by cute since time immemorial.

If there’s one thing that will always be true, one thing that I should probably take away from this experience of worrying obsessively about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and then having it bite me in the ass three weeks later, it is that Charlotte always finds new ways to remind me that HER timeline for growing up is just the right one for her.

** Charlotte is two years and seven months old.


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  1. By on March 16, 2012

    A few months ago a child in my daughter’s class had a birthday party and invited only 4 or 5 children from school….....my daughter was not one of them. I found out about the party in passing when another parent asked me if I was taking my daughter to so and so’s party the following day.

    This was at school drop off in the morning and needless to say I worried about it ALL DAY LONG. To the point that when I got home that night I cried (for nearly an hour might I add) to my husband about our daughter’s social development…....why was she left out? What if her feelings were hurt? How are we going to make her feel confident? On and on I went (about something my daughter quite literally knew NOTHING about.

    Probably not my finest moment in parenting, but we’ve all been there…....overanalyzing, over worrying, sometimes to the point of tears.

  2. By Stephanie on March 16, 2012

    Just so you know: I was also a child who was calm and liked to watch and take things in. I could also get down with the best of them, and was a gymnast and played softball for 10 years. I had a lot of friends, but only a handful of people who were especially close—and this is the same now.

    I was, admittedly, a kind of weird kid. I preferred to read then hang out, I skipped a dance in middle school to go see Titanic, and I was always prone to daydreaming (and still am). I spent, and still spend, a lot of time in my head. When I was young that involved making up stories, thinking about what I had seen and interactions I saw between people and now… those are both there, with 50 million other things.

    Basically what I’m hoping I’m saying is don’t worry. I knew people from all kinds of social circles—the kids everyone loved but who were secretly getting drunk and having sex in the bathroom at school, and the kids who got the shit kicked out of them every day because of what they wore but who were, and are, some of the most amazing people. When you’re a kid who likes people, who loves friends, but might prefer a small group of very good friends over a large group of people you “know,“ you sometimes come off as weird… but it’s a good weird. ;)

    I have no idea how Charlotte will turn out or really what she’s like day to day—just what’s in your blog, which I imagine isn’t close to everything. I’m sure she’s going to be radiant regardless of what her social path is, and I’m even more positive about that when you consider that you and Donald are helping guide her.

  3. By Stephanie on March 16, 2012

    And on the other hand, I too worry about this kind of stuff for Jasper.. but mostly because he’s a really sensitive kid, and it seems to me it’s easier to be a quiet, sensitive person when you’re a female than it is when you’re a male. I was quiet and sensitive and I was teased for it, but I knew plenty of quiet and sensitive guys who were beaten up for it. Granted, this takes the conversation into an entirely different place that probably ends with some kind of battle about what kind of schooling is best for kids (and I DON’T want to go there), but I wanted to bring it up just to show that I too have these moments. There have been a few teary-eyed , late night conversations about “OH MY GOSH WHAT IF SOMEONE IS MEAN TO HIM? WHAT IF SOMEONE DOESN’T LIKE HIM?“

    It’s natural. It happens. :)

  4. By christy on March 16, 2012

    I’m pretty sure my kid will be a social outcast, I’ve accepted it.  If he isn’t, I will be that much happier! :)

  5. By Thrifty Vintage Kitten on March 16, 2012

    I wish more moms would be more aware of what they say to other moms. Gah! We’re all sensitive about our children. They are a direct reflection on us!

  6. By Sarah Christensen on March 16, 2012

    Thrifty - Overall I agree, but even I have to admit that what she said was totally innocuous - an observation, not a judgment.

  7. By Cindy A on March 16, 2012

    Remember at the LA arboretum, Char and Bailey chased each other around a tree trunk for like 20 minutes or more??  Charlotte is too cute ;) and we miss you girls.

  8. By Maricris @ SittingAround on March 18, 2012

    I love watching small children, who can’t even hardly speak, talking to each other. I always wonder, how they understand each other and what they are talking about.  :-)

  9. By Nilu-Marie on March 19, 2012

    Yes, every kid has their own time to start doing different things. Don’t worry about it. N. for example hasn’t rolled over, even though he’s soon 5 months old. I used to totally freak out about it, thinking that he was disabled or something. But the doctor said its just fine. A lot of worries for nothing. A parent might actually put unneeded stress on the child by worrying about his development so much. And also, being calm and observant is ummm…......WONDERUL!!?

  10. By Courtney @ Bundle of Wonder on March 19, 2012

    Sarah, I feel the same way about Harper!  The funny thing is, I was actually worrying about this the day we met at the zoo!  Harper spends almost all her time with me and if she is with someone else, they are adults without children.  Only once a week do we meet up with other children at her music class.  While we are there, none of the children play together.  The only time they acknowledge each other is during circle time where they have to hold hands.  I believe I read that at age 2-3 they will “play” together, but really that only means that they’ll play in the same space, but with different toys/activities.  Nevertheless, I constantly worry that Harper isn’t as social as she should be.  She absolutely loves babies and other kids and points them out wherever we go.  But to actually play with one, no way. 

    When we were at the zoo I kept thinking how independent Charlotte is.  I was incredibly amazed at how well she went about doing her own thing.  I think that you’re doing a wonderful job with her and I think that in her own time she will begin to play more with other children. I have an almost five year-old cousin who just started playing and interacting more with other children within the past year so you just never know I guess!  If only I could remember that myself and stop worrying about it all the time!


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