Anna is a shy child. Shy and timid. It bothers me – I hate to admit it and I know it’s wrong, but it does bother me.
She has always been a bit clingy. There are always a few incidents a day in which she even rejects R. Mumma chahiye and that’s it. I don’t like it. It puts a lot of strain on me and I’m also concerned about her clinginess. One of the first things she says in the morning is ‘Aaj chutti hai – school/office nahi jaana’. Every single day. I know she likes going there but she is not one of those kids who run into school without a backward glance. One of the other things she says is ‘Basanti Aunty nahi aayegi aaj. Anu ko Basanti Aunty ke paas nahi jaana’. Basanti Aunty is her baby-sitter. She’s been with us for a month now since my old baby-sitter left. It’s not that she hasn’t adjusted to her – she has and I am very thankful for that. She used to say the same for her old baby-sitter. She just wants me to be with her all the time. She used to howl really loudly when I left in the morning but now for the past few days she just whimpers a bit – she’s understood that Mumma has to leave and will be back by evening. I know it’s normal for her age to be upset – but still I feel so bad everyday.
Even in the park – she is not one of the kids running around recklessly. She is very scared of older kids and immediately starts crying and clings to me if they are around and being boisterous. She never snatches anyone else’s toys and I’m really thankful for that – but she doesn’t even try and stop other babies from taking her stuff. Some of the kids will come over and immediately start taking her toys – Anna gets scared and won’t even try to take her things back. She just backs off and comes to me – as if the toys aren’t even hers. I’m all for sharing but I don’t want her to be a doormat. I hate watching other kids playing with her toys while she just looks on – unable to go and take what is hers. I’m torn between intervening on her behalf and letting her learn to stand up for herself. She’s even scared of kids younger than her. If she’s waiting her turn to get on the slide, she will keep waiting as other kids push past her unless I get in and help her. If she’s already climbing and a bigger kid starts climbing behind her, she gets scared and starts crying. One day a relative and their daughter, who is a few months younger than Anna, had come to visit. The little girl pushed Anna many times, tried her best to hit her, grabbed her toys and Anna didn’t fight back. She very sweetly offered more toys and was really happy to have someone to play with.
Anna is actually quite assertive at home and in places where she’s very comfortable. It’s just out and about in public that these situations turn up. In any case at home she rules the roost – no competition to speak of.
The problem is that kids like her are in the minority. Most kids I see have no problem grabbing what they want or pushing ahead to take their turn. I don’t even blame them because it seems natural at their age. I’m only worried that my gentle girl get’s left behind. Deep down I know that I should be proud of her gentle nature – and I am. I’m proud that she never grabs stuff, never hits, that I don’t have to keep running after her when we’re out to keep her out of mischief, that people we visit never have to immediately start baby-proofing their house. However, the world we live in is not a gentle place. I can protect her now most of the time, but if she doesn’t learn to be assertive I don’t know how she’ll survive a few years down the line. I don’t want my daughter to get lost in a crowd, to be the one in her group of friends who is always following. I know that I might be worrying needlessly, that she is still only a baby, that I should not be wishing for her nature to be different from what it is, that she may always be shy and there is nothing I may be able to do about it. I know that though the world doesn’t seem to value quiet people, sometimes they are the ones who really shine.
My problem is that I am confused. Confused about whether this a problem at all or should I just ignore it, confused about whether I should even try to make her be less timid or accept it as her nature, confused about whether I should intervene on her behalf or let her suffer and maybe learn to be stronger because of it, confused about whether it is just a matter of time and things will be okay or that I have to help her in some way.
Sigh. What do I do?