The age of socialization

When we took our daughter for her 2-year-old checkup, her pediatrician informed us that this is the year of socialization.  This is when she will start learning how to interact with others.  Hanging out with other children is a good thing during this year.  I said, “OK,” as he told us.  But, inside I started to panic just a little.   I began wracking my brain for ways to get her more interactions with other little ones.  I knew it was going to take me out of my comfort zone.  Heck, most of motherhood has been getting out of my comfort zone.

I looked into different groups.  One group that is part of a national organization holds meetings a few times a month, but the children go to a nursery/play room with babysitters.  I wasn’t fond of that idea.  First, because I wasn’t exactly seeking socialization myself.  I wouldn’t mind it.  I’m just not super good at it.  (My own socialization tends to happen more virtually than in person these days.)  Second, I wasn’t comfortable leaving my child in the care of someone I didn’t know.  Third, and most importantly, I know my child would not take well to being left with someone else.  She does well with her grandparents as babysitters, but that’s it.  Going to church is a challenge right now because she balks at being left in the toddler room.  We’re working on it.

Speaking of the toddler room, that was another idea for socialization.  It still is, but it’s a work in progress.  I’m hopeful that once she adjusts this will be good socialization for her, especially without me around.  She is very used to being with me.

I found another program that meets twice a month.  One meeting the kiddos stay with you; the next they don’t.  I thought about going just to the meetings where the kiddos stay with you.  But, that group meets during library story time.  We don’t live in a huge city, but we have two very nice libraries with different story times throughout the week.  The one on Wednesday morning, however, is our favorite.  It’s a small group and we do a craft.  I hate for Lexiana to miss it because she likes it.  And, it’s some socialization, too.  In fact, it’s a big source of socialization for us right now.

The library has been good.  Yesterday we even tried a second story time at the other branch.  This one is much closer to our house.  Having just turned 2, she is eligible now for this particular group.  I wanted to check it out before winter hits.  I figure with bad roads, this might be our best bet.  It was a much more crowded story time.  We didn’t do a craft.  But, it was fun nonetheless.

Here’s the thing: we go to these events.  I think they are good for her.  She says she has fun.  While we are there, though, she’s not very participatory.  Though she can say her full name, she never will at the library events.  Though she sings constantly (in fact, she’s crooning in the baby monitor as I type), she won’t at the library.  Though she dances around here, she won’t at the library.  She knows the motions and the songs, but she is too unsure to actually do them in front of other people at the library.  And she is way too busy watching the other children.  She’s an observer, this child of mine.  I completely understand that.

So, I think we’re working on socialization.  Library story times are a good fit for us right now. She gets some exposure to other people and situations while still having me around to be more comfortable.  I don’t want to be a helicopter mom  and hover, but I know my child and her concerns and insecurities.  We’re entering the age of socialization. I’m trying to learn how to relax and enjoy it.  I’m reminding myself not to worry.

Just the other night, my husband and I shared a laugh about how when Lexiana was around 10 months I was worried that I didn’t talk enough for her to learn how to be verbal.  She now talks plainly, in full sentences and incessantly.  She’s about a year ahead on speech, according to her pediatrician.  My worry was for naught.  I have a feeling that most things are going to be that way.  Today’s worry about helping her learn to socialize will become next year’s laugh at the dinner table.  In the meantime, though, we are going to keep going to story time (maybe both of them each week) and we’re going to continue working on the toddler room at church and being happy there.  I’m going to continue taking her out with me to go shopping, visit extended relatives and anything else that comes up.  And I’ll try to relax and not worry that I’m stunting her social skills.  Bring it on, age of socialization!

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