Last week, I took PK to a birthday party. Mr. Shiny and New's daughter was celebrating her 3rd birthday. PK was totally psyched to attend the party. She'd been looking forward to the party for about 2 weeks.
Then we got to the party, and she just froze. I guess she wasn't expecting all the other kids to be there, and it just overwhelmed her. She didn't want to play with the other girls at all at first. She was perfectly content sitting in a Big Bird chair (totally coveted item every time we come for a visit), doing her own thing. When it was time to blow out birthday candles, all of the girls were seated at the dining room table eating some very yummy vegan strawberry cupcakes, while PK sat at the Big Bird chair in the living room. She eventually warmed up and joined the other girls at the table. And then decided that they didn't bite and played with a couple of them.
At first I was a bit annoyed and concerned by PK's behavior. But then I remembered that when I was a kid, I hated these types of social situations. I much preferred small, intimate groups over larger ones (still do). Birthday parties were particularly hard for me, especially when it was a party for one of my parents' friends' kids whom I didn't know very well.
I remember one party in particular when I was about 8 or 9. One of my dad's co-workers was throwing a birthday party for his daughter. I didn't know the girl at all. When we got to the party, I was a total bitch. I didn't want to talk to anyone or play with anyone. I remember that they were playing the movie Annie on the TV (aside: I hate that movie). I also remember that I only lightened up when it was time for the loot bags. My parents were pissed at my attitude during this party.
Like me, the hubby is also an introvert. Interestingly, I think that he can handle these social situations better than I can, but he much prefers solitude. He'll be perfectly happy to hang out with a couple of really close friends. But I know he's even happier to be alone with just me or with his own thoughts. I, on the other hand, crave human contact, but have a hard time making contact (though it has improved significantly over the past 10 years). I was at a work awards function a couple of years back, and I very nearly ran out of the venue at one point, because I felt so uncomfortable and had absolutely no desire to schmooze. Aren't we a pair of oxymorons?
So can I really blame PK for acting the way she did? Not at all. When I was growing up, I hated the lack of empathy on my parents' part when it came to my shyness. It annoyed my mom, because she just didn't get why I had so much difficulty making a phone call or striking up a conversation. But now, as a parent, I find myself in my mom's position and PK in my position as a child. The difference is, I can be there for PK to let her know that I totally know what she's going through, and to let her know that it's okay to be shy.