Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rules of Engagement

As I've most likely mentioned, Toby is very clingy.
I hesitate to call him anti-social because he does play well and get along with other people, but it takes a LONG time, and a certain type of person for him to warm up to.
My mom assures me I was the same. At family events I played in another room. I never strayed more than 3 feet from her knees while shopping. And yet I loved school and was very happy once I got in the routine.

I would have hoped, or thought, that after three years he would just learn to relax around other people and just know that I was not going to leave him, instead of hyperventilating and leeching himself to my neck.

And with people we visit regularly he is actually becoming quite bold and 'normal' around.
Except there it still the once in a while where I want to visit people we haven't seen in a while and he wants nothing to do with it.
I feel like I need to hand out a ridiculous  set of rules to everyone before we even enter:
1. Do not say hello to Toby. And if you do, Please don't do it two inches from his face.
2. He is not 'playing' shy, he is genuinely insecure and does not know who you are.
3. Give him an hour before you try to engage him.
4. Keep all pets, especially dogs, back a 6 foot radius.
5. The longer you try to get him to smile, the less he is going to like you.

And likewise, I wish I could shove a stack of logic into Toby's head:
1. If you say hi to people who greet you, they are more likely to then walk away instead of spending the next 5 minutes trying to make you smile.
2. It is fine to want me to hold you for the first little while, but when I put you down because my arms hurt it does not mean I am walking away or leaving, and thus does not warrant a panic attack.
3. Dogs and cats sniff to say hello. Just say hello back and they will leave.
4. If someone asks you something you could at least TRY to nod or shake your head in response instead of wiping nasal mucus on my new sweater over and over.

I can empathize with Toby because I remember what its like to be an awkwardly shy kid.
But at the same time I am so sick of telling people not to talk to him because I feel like I"m pushing people away or being rude.
I laugh and smile and roll my eyes and try to keep moving through the room, but it doesn't always work.
I try really hard not to loose my cool because I know Toby senses it, but sometimes he just seems to get so irrational and frantic that I can't help but be angry.
Plus I'm currently sick and have a locked jaw and a swollen wisdom tooth and can barely focus on driving, let alone a frantic toddler.
I want to find more social things to do with Toby, but I don't want to enroll in a program only to have him have a panic attack everytime we go.
I always say that the summer is easier to do stuff because people are around and the weather is good, but then it's the winter when you NEED something to do.
I can just picture him starting school with a ton of enthusiasm, and then freeze at the door and have a melt down.
Although it's still two years away, and when I think about how far he's come in the last two years, maybe there's some hope...

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