Thursday, March 17, 2011

My kid is too friendly!

I have a problem with my son.  He's too social, charming, gregarious, you name it.  A born performer, my 20-month-old is happiest when he is in a huge group of people with the attention on him.

He gets so excited about a trip to the store, he'll be practically dancing in his carseat.  Though he prefers to walk next to us, we put him in the shopping cart so he doesn't walk up to random strangers to say, "Hi."  (He still greets everyone we pass, but in the shopping cart, we can restrain him better.)

When he gets home from school in the afternoon, we give him a snack and try to get him to sit on the floor with us and play with toys, or read a book.  He will, but after about half an hour, he drifts over to the window.  He'll then sit at the window, waving down at passing cars, and people walking dogs, yelling greetings and identifying what he sees.  "Doggie!  Truck!  Hi!  Hey!  Hi doggie!  Car!  Beep beep!"

Even though his extended family live nearby, and he sees them often, he often gets lonely for them and wants to see or talk to them right away.  He'll grab my phone and say "Poppa" and, because he's spoiled, I'll dial Poppa for him, who will then hold a full conversation with my 1 1/2 year-old, because he spoils him too.

Last night he noticed a picture of his cousin (whom he just saw Sunday) on the refrigerator, so all night he was asking to go play with her.  He was very insistent, and he's too young for us to make him understand that you don't drop everything for a playdate at 7:30 pm.

The most embarrassing is how he acts at our Tuesday night Bible Study.  He gets excited about it before we even get there.  When we need him to get ready, all we have to do is say, "Gotta go.  Gotta go see people from church."  My son will then repeat, "Gotta go!  See people!"  He'll grab his coat and shoes and will try to dress himself faster than I can help him.  (He'll even put his seahorse into the diaper bag for us.)  Then he'll run to the door and grab the handle, jumping and yelling, "Gotta go!"  This past Tuesday, my husband was still getting ready, and my son was getting really anxious to get on the way, so I went ahead and took him downstairs for a change of scenery.  He kept running to the door and saying, "Mama!  Gotta go!  See people!"  I made the mistake of telling him, "No baby, we have to wait for Daddy."  He ran to the bottom of the stairs and yelled up, "Daddy!  Come on!  Gotta GO!"

When we get to the house of the couple who hosts, he is in rare form.  He will wander around to various adults, some without kids of their own, and scramble up in their lap, or give them a high-five, or try to play with them.  He thinks it's a game to steal someone's seat when they get up, mainly because he wants them to pick him up when they get back.  He absolutely adores a younger baby (I want to say around 7 months) who comes.  He'll stare at her and wave, or come over and try to gently rock her carrier carseat.  Her parents are really nice about it, but I always worry about him getting her sick, or accidentally rocking her too hard.  I don't want him to annoy anyone, but at the same time, I don't know how, or really want to, correct a toddler for being too friendly.

Unfortunately, my 24-7 on-call pediatrician, Dr. Google, offers almost no advice on what to do if your toddler is too outgoing.  All the advice seems to be about correcting stranger anxiety and getting your child used to different people, which is very obviously not the problem I have.

So what do I do?  I hate to hear other parents tell their friendly children (who never really bother me) that they're "being a pest".  It seems so embarrassing to the kid, and degrading to their self-esteem.  But, on the other hand, I know that not everyone is going to find my social butterfly of a baby as adorable as I do, and I don't want to be that clueless mom whose kid is irritating everyone.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is my daughter to a tee. She is about to turn 2. I used to think the same thing but I'm afraid we'll make them feel bad by putting down & shushing their outgoing personalites which could be more damaging. So I'm thinking we just embrace who they are.

1st-Time Mommy said...

Yeah, my son's second birthday is at the end of this month, and he's managed, somehow, to become even MORE outgoing. Fortunately, I'm learning to roll with it and my friends all SWEAR (though I'm sure they'd never tell me any differently) that they think it's cute and they don't mind his attention-seeking behavior.

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