Owen has always been a social butterfly; sometimes to a fault. The kid loves people and just can’t help himself. He talks to EVERYONE and expects them to do the same in return. As a baby the teachers at his school called him “the Mayor”, and as he has grown up he has grown into that moniker, knowing every student and teacher (and almost every classmate’s parents) by name and saying hello and goodbye to each of them every day. These days he’s chattering away to the other parents and teachers before I even leave the room — about what he has for breakfast or something funny that happened on the way to school or something he’s looking forward to doing the following weekend. It’s even been written up in his report card: Chatty Kathy.
But we’ve recently found his kryptonite.
The thing that makes this blabbermouth go mute.
His “crushes”, as we call them. There have been a few in the last few months, and they all elicit the same response.
The first one was Maeve. She’s an older girl (5, maybe?) from our weekly music class. A few weeks into class Owen started talking about her after class. Asking me questions about her, her mommy, what she was wearing. Then he started imitating her (standing next to her against the wall, sitting with his legs folded criss-cross-applesauce right next to her during circle time, putting his fingers in his mouth like she does). Next he would anticipate her arrival to class (we’d get there early and he’d spend the time anxiously checking the door to see if she had arrived, and then speculate about where she might be). Then, in the last few weeks, he started telling everyone he was excited to see her. He blabbed to everyone about how he loved to see her and couldn’t wait for her to arrive. All the other parents and I joked about how hard he was crushing on her. But then, when she finally came in the door, he would bury his face in my chest and not make eye contact.
She’d stand there and smile and wave, and he’d look away like he couldn’t care less. 10-15 minutes into class he’d warm up and they’d dance together, holding hands, and whispering and being silly together.
Similarly, his other crush was another little girl from a different music class. A total cutie pie with glasses and pigtails. She’s about 6 months younger but dances her little buns off in the center of the circle for the entire class. From the very first time he laid eyes on her, Owen was smitten. “Bella loves to dance”, he’d say to me after class. “Bella has glasses.” “Bella, Bella, Bella”. I encouraged him to go dance with her but he refused… until the very last class. During our last class they sat next to each other on a tiny sofa and bounced up and down. Not looking at each other, but staring straight ahead. Bouncing. Together. A few weeks after the class ended we were at a playground we’d never been to before. Owen got all shy and started pulling me around by my hand (NOT his typical “jump off of everything” playground style). Finally he whispered. “Mommy, who is that?” over and over again until I finally realized who it was.
“Let’s go say hi!” I said. But he refused. Silent. He just wanted to stand and watch her from afar. But not get too close. And then, sadly, she went home, without a word. (She had no idea he was even there).
This past weekend we were at a local farmer’s market when the same thing happened. Owen spotted her from across a field and pulled me to a safe vantage point before whispering, “Look! Mommy! Look who it is!”. Bella again. This time Benjamin encouraged him to go say hi. Owen started running around near her, but wouldn’t make the first move. Thankfully Benjamin did, and, right before Bella and her mom were about to leave, he made the love connection.
Owen bashfully looked at the ground like he didn’t know her at all. Then, slowly, as Benjamin and Bella’s mom chatted, the kids started running around together. We exchanged numbers so we could have a playdate.
Why the silence and shyness? I don’t know. But it’s a really sweet side of my otherwise-always-outgoing child that I absolutely love to see.