Tag Archives: shyness

A Shout Out to Quiet Kids

shy-kidThere’s an old expression, “Children should be seen and not heard.”  Fortunately, by the time I was growing up this expression was more of a punchline than a practice. I do remember one time when we were visiting my stepdad’s family in Kansas. We were going to the home of a great aunt who was very boisterous in her dislike for noisy children. As we drove there, my mother cautioned us about being polite and quiet. Once we arrived, my sister and I sat on the sofa with our hands folded in our laps while my baby brother fell asleep on the floor at my mother’s feet. After our visit, the aunt told all the relatives what wonderful children we were, even though we never said a word.

Under most circumstances, parents hope their children will be confident and able to speak up for themselves even in unfamiliar situations. But for many children, that can be a challenge. In my day, we were called “shy.” I was one of those shy kids.

I don’t remember too much about first grade, but one experience sticks out clearly in my mind. As I recall,  I rarely ate in the cafeteria. On most days, my mother packed a cold lunch for me in my lunchbox. Students who didn’t buy a cafeteria lunch had to eat outside on picnic tables. On this one particular day, the grass in the picnic area was being irrigated.  There was a announcement about it, but I didn’t fully understand what we were supposed to do. Being shy, I didn’t ask anyone. At lunch time, I went to the picnic area as usual, but it was all wet. So I wandered around the school yard, hoping to find the other kids. Unsuccessful, I returned to my classroom. My teacher asked me if I had eaten my lunch. When I shook my head no, she took me inside the classroom. It was obvious from her tone and demeanor that she was not happy with this extra duty.  She opened my lunchbox,  took out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and handed it to me. When my classmates returned from lunch, the teacher made it quite clear exactly why they had to remain outside. But my humiliation wasn’t over yet.  Instead of filling my thermos with milk that day, my mom had filled it with a soft drink.  The soda had been bounced and jostled as I walked around the school. Now, when my teacher opened the thermos, the contents exploded all over her.

I know my shyness caused my mother a great deal of frustration and at times, embarrassment. For me, it was a source of fear and feelings of inadequacy. Nothing my mother tried–yelling, punishing, forcing–made any difference. It wasn’t until I became an adult and chose to be in situations that required me to overcome my shyness that I was able to get it under control and eventually eliminate it.  I wouldn’t call myself an extrovert, but I am on that side of the midpoint. I like to think of myself as bold and confident.

To those kids out there who are uncomfortable speaking and don’t like unfamiliar situations, I say be happy with who you are. Quiet kids are deep thinkers. They are cautious and think things through.  For that reason, they usually make good decisions. Quiet kids are okay working alone, which makes them self-reliant. They are creative and come up with good ideas.

To parents of quiet kids I offer some suggestions. First of all, don’t worry. Most children outgrow or learn to manage their shyness as I did. Focus on the positive aspects–those things you child does well. Don’t push. Your child will come out of her shell when she is ready. If you feel it is necessary, talk to your child’s teacher for help. Relax and enjoy your wonderful child.

Which Handy Helper is most like me? –The Boys

Scan_20140901 (2)I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was a tomboy.  I still am as much as I can be  at my age.

It’s kind of obvious from my picture that I was a goofy little kid. That’s my dog Freckles who went everywhere with me.

Of the three boys in The Handy Helpers, I guess I’m most like Spike. He’s a practical joker and so am I. Just ask my students about some of the April Fools gags I played on them. When I was a kid I liked to make prank phone calls. Mostly I called my grandma and asked her things like, “Is your refrigerator running?” Of course my grandma was wise to my tricks and would ask, “Where would it run to?” One time I got a big pan of water. I called a plumber and when someone answered, I yelled “Help!” Then I stuck my face in the water and went blub . . . blub . . blub. Of course my little brother told on me. My mom had me half convinced that we would get a bill from the plumber. Good thing there wasn’t caller ID back then.

Like Spike I was short for my age. But Spike likes to attract attention to himself with his spiked hair and shirts with sayings on them. I was never bold like that. Instead, I tried to blend in and not be noticed.   In that regard, I was more like Logan. But when it comes to being shy, Logan doesn’t even come close. Here’s an example. Growing up in Phoenix, we watched the Lew King Ranger Show. Wayne Newton, who was a child, was a regular on the show. The sponsor of the show was First Federal Savings. To encourage the good habit of saving, children who had savings accounts at First Federal were invited to be on the show. Finally, the opportunity came for me and my little sister. There was a special place for us to sit on the floor and all that was required of us was to stand up and say our names when called on. As the MC went around the group, I became more and more stressed. When it was my turn, I couldn’t move. No amount of cajoling or urging on the part of the MC could get me to open my mouth. I just sat there with my butt glued to the floor. My mother was so embarrassed, I was afraid she was going to pretend I wasn’t hers and leave me there.

When Chris, another character,  was three years old, he lost his dad in a car accident. I was also three when my dad died during surgery. I have been told a lot about my dad, so I feel like I know him even though I don’t really have any memories of him. I’ve been told that I look like him and that he liked to joke around like I do. Like Chris’s mother, my mother always made sure that I had a close relationship with my father’s family. Every summer she would drive me to Prescott so I could spend a week with my father’s sister, Aunt Marylou and Uncle Kenny. I have so many cherished memories of the time I spent with them and my cousins. My father’s oldest brother, my Uncle Ray and Aunt Ruth always made sure that my sister and I felt like we were part of the family. I remember them being at every important event in my life. I know that wasn’t  easy because they had five children of their own. Today I feel fortunate to have my wonderful Morgan cousins as Facebook friends and  stay in contact with them as much as possible.