I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert who is also shy. This means that I find social situations very draining with the added bonus of never knowing what to say or when (and preferring if people don’t notice me anyway).
What I’ve discovered today is that, if you add an independently mobile baby to this mix, you end up with a recipe for a very emotionally exhausting afternoon.
Meeting some baby group friends for a catch up and advice is probably a good afternoon out for most parents. To be fair, it was for me too. It’s really hard for me to make friends (I don’t trust many people) but these ladies from baby group have been great and we have stuff in common which helps a lot.
We met at a friend’s house which made life a bit more comfortable (no worries about what facilities may or may not be available) and had a lovely chat. However, it wasn’t easy to chat whilst keeping an eye on Reindeer. Conversations take a lot of attention for me as my mind is constantly whirling and analysing whether I’ve said the wrong thing/missed a cue/said too much/not said enough/not responded appropriately, etc. This doesn’t leave a lot of processing power for other things.
Being in a child safe place helped me feel more relaxed, especially as the other babies were there with their mothers. Mostly Reindeer was content to play, coming back to me for the occasional cuddle. During the afternoon a few things happened which were either amusing, or potentially embarrassing, or both.
When some books were brought out for the kids, Reindeer went straight over as he loves them. The eldest child (age 2 years) was there first and began reading. On arrival at the book Reindeer muscled his way between the child and the book. At first I was mortified, thinking he was pushing in and taking it away, then we realised that the older child had been saying words aloud, so he was trying to sit in her lap while she read, the same way he does with me when we read at home. It was actually very cute!
A bit later he went over to the young baby and tried to pat his head. This wasn’t too bad as he was quite gentle, but he then made a grab for his nose (thankfully missing). Worrying and embarrassing.
He also grabbed the older child’s hair gently – she didn’t notice as it was more like stroking, but her Mum spotted it! Embarrassing and alarming as I didn’t get there quickly enough.
He was also a bit windy yesterday so broke wind whilst sat on the floor. This caused the wooden floor to vibrate so everyone noticed. And commented as they tried to find out which baby it was. Oops.
It’s stuff like this which adds a whole new layer of anxiety to social situations; is he being judged too? Am I being judged on his actions? I’d like to believe babies and children, and their parents, aren’t judged by other adults, but that would be folly. They clearly are, I did it myself before having Reindeer. Now I’m horrified that I used to think like that and, understanding what it’s like on the other side now, I need to learn to deal with that.
Thankfully, my friends also share my concerns about their own children and how other adults respond, so I know I’m not alone. I just need to become resilient and not allow anxiety to take hold. This would be better for Reindeer as I don’t want him to know anything about my worries; I’d prefer it he could grow unhindered by them.