New Mama Musings

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For the Love of God -- Do NOT Talk to Him!

Everywhere we go, people try to talk to Henry. Invariably he says, "No" to every question (even things like "What's your name?") and generally comes off as anti-social.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm a little embarrassed that my kid can't even say "hello" when greeted by a cashier.

But on the other hand, I'm reserved and a bit shy by nature too, so I understand the desire to avoid unwanted attention. He doesn't know these people. They're big; he's little. Maybe he doesn't feel like talking. Maybe he's intimidated.

Maybe he thinks they're morons and undeserving of his attention.

Whatever it is, I don't think I would appreciate the sort of attention he gets merely because he's a kid -- people asking my name, my age, if I'm being a good helper to the person I'm out with, etc.

The other day a friend's mother actually tried to pick Henry up from behind, saying, "Let's see how heavy you are." Henry crumpled to the floor. It was such a violation; I was shocked.

I've been a little unsure about what to do in these situations (except when he was physically handled -- I firmly said, "Don't pick him up!" and comforted him). I want to acknowledge and respect Henry's feelings. But I also don't want to be rude to people who really only have the best of intentions. And I would like to model socially appropriate behavior for my son.

When the clerk at Starbucks says "hi" to Henry and he tells her, "No, don't say that!" I don't want to minimize his feelings by saying, "He's cranky."

I remember being upset about something as an adolescent and my parents rolling their eyes, saying to one another, "Here we go, another teenager." I never want Henry to feel that I'm trivializing his emotions. Even saying "he's shy" is labeling him and may not accurately reflect his current state of mind anyway.

For now I've decided to smile and say, "He'd rather not talk right now." This way I am acknowledging the other person in a socially appropriate way while validating my son's feelings at the same time.

Hopefully, someday, Henry will figure out how to honor everyone's feelings himself.


  • Sounds like a great solution to me. M is pretty social, but tends to be a little shy when directly confronted by a stranger. I will remember your line when those situations arise!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:47 PM  

  • Sounds like a great idea to me. I might borrow it for O. =-) HH

    By Blogger, at 9:50 AM  

  • jarrett is like this. he is generally super outgoing and wild, but often he ignores people when spoken to. refuses eye contact, etc.

    i just say to J: you don't feel like talking to them?
    to which he typically mumbles: noooo
    and i say: that's okay-

    i sometimes follow it up later on by: it's nice manners if you look at people's eyes when you speak to them and answer them, but if you'r enot feeling like it all the time, that's okay............

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:37 PM  

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