Shy or just reserved?

There he stood, leaning against a tree. He watched the other boys playing but didn’t approach them. I knew he wanted to, but he still held back and watched. Ea he hung out in the pool alone while the other boys dove off the diving board. It wasn’t fear of the diving board that kept Jase away. It was the awkward shyness of not knowing how to join his friend who is playing with other boys he doesn’t know or doesn’t know well.

This was the scene recently at a birthday pool party that Jase, Lexie and I attended. It was a joint celebration for Jase’s friend Aidan and for Aidan’s sister, Morgan, who is Lexie’s friend. While Lexie had no problem running off with some girls, it was Jase I knew who might struggle at the party.

Last year, his best friend Noah also came to the party, so he was fine that Aidan was hanging with his cousins who Jase doesn’t know. However, this year Noah didn’t make it to the party. This left Jase feeling very left out. I encouraged him to join the other boys who I am sure were not excluding him on purpose.

But this reserved boy has always been a worrier. He is more likely to sit back and observe before joining in. He is hesitant to join a big group and does better with one-on-one interactions in small groups. He is me.

I remember these feelings and problems from my own childhood. Even as an adult I sometimes struggle with feeling like I fit in. But even though I know what he is going through, I don’t know what to tell him to make it better. Maybe he just has to find his own way.

Three years ago, I wrote about Jase being shy and a worrier. I had hoped he would grow out of it. But it doesn’t look like that has happened.

But the funny thing is that he isn’t consistent with his shyness. He has performed in the school talent show. His teacher told me he was always participating in class and even about him dancing in front of his classmates. Of course, this was at the February parent-teacher conference, and maybe that is him half the year to feel comfortable to do those things.

At the recent pool party, he spent the first hour and a half either by himself or watching the other boys. I don’t know what happened but then all of a sudden he was with the group doing crazy dives off the diving board. I saw him talking to a boy he didn’t know and popping balloons with him. Suddenly, he was fitting in and not ready to leave when the party was over.

Maybe this is just how Jase is. Maybe he needs that time to access a situation before joining in.

Balancing my time between the kids and my own interests

“Will you play with me?” my daughter asks.

I sigh. I am right in the middle of working on something and now is not a good time. “In a little while, honey,” I say.

Then she wanders off and if I am lucky she finds something on her own to keep her busy, but sometimes she comes back a minute later with the same question and will keep returning with the hope that my answer has changed.

I sometimes wonder when I tell her I am busy if I do it too often. Everyone always says that kids grow up way too fast and that you should enjoy them while they are young.

While I am sure this is true, you can’t spend every minute at the beckon-call of your child. They need to learn to play by themselves too.

So I guess my dilemma right now is how to properly balance spending time with the kids and getting things done that I need to do.  I have heard many parents say that spending time with their kids is more important than a clean house. In fact, I know quite a few stay-at-home moms who do nothing but attend to their kids and play with them all day.

But that isn’t me. Besides keeping the house marginally clean, I also have my own work as an author and blogger. I don’t want my kids to be my only focus. I want to be more than just a mom, and I think the kids benefit from me having my own interests.

The key is finding out how to balance my time with them with my own pursuits. I make every effort to be involved in their lives. I volunteer at their school. We go to the zoo, museums and the theme parks on their days off or weekends. It is rare that I don’t have something planned every day in the summer even if it is just taking them to the pool.

But there are times when I need to work. I do a lot of my writing while they are in school but sometimes other things – errands, a breakfast out with other moms or doing the invoices for my husband’s business – take up my time and that leaves me with working while they are at home.

And that is where the balancing act begins. Sometimes I do get up and read a book or play a game with them. But other times, I feel the need to work and put them off. Whenever I do, it always leaves me questioning if I am neglecting them or giving them the opportunity to learn how to amuse themselves. After all, that is a pretty important thing to learn too.