Cole was always so very shy. He rarely felt comfortable venturing into new territory on his own. Speaking to someone he didn't know? No way, not gonna happen. It took days for him to feel comfortable enough to speak with any of our extended relatives when we traveled back East for a family wedding.
And I always wondered, is he going to be a shy introvert like me the rest of his life? How can I help support him so he knows he is loved and valued just how he is, while encouraging him to not let the shyness run his life?
After a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that, as his parents, we needed to be Cole's safe place. Only after security can come confidence. The world is a big and overwhelming place for a tiny little person - we should let him delve into it at his own pace. As a result, we never pushed Cole to do an activity he didn't feel comfortable with. At the splash park, we went many times before Cole felt comfortable enough to even touch the water splashes. He would spend the majority of every single birthday party and gathering on the sidelines, simply watching and observing. Chris and I made it clear that he was always welcome to join in, but that it was fine if he didn't, too.
And now? Cole is a friendly, outgoing little fellow. He's quick to speak politely when spoken to. He LOVES to play with his little neighborhood friends and our family friends. He's delighted to make new friends at the park. There's hardly any of that lingering shyness that dominated his personality for so long.
I'm so proud. I'm proud of him and I'm proud of Chris and me as his parents. I think by supporting him, instead of pressuring and pushing, we allowed him to grow socially at his own pace.
And the reward is that, a few minutes ago, a couple of neighbor girls rang the doorbell and asked if Cole could go play - and he couldn't get out of our house fast enough. Our little social butterfly.