Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If We Left You Alone, You'd Be By Yourself

I know I owe y'all a little bit more on the Savannah Book Festival, but something happened today that was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back. Except that it didn't really break it. It's just that maybe the camel is not sure how to feel about what happened.

We've been having some behavior issues with Punkin lately. She's always been strong willed and has always resorted to tantrums to get her way. If we're being honest, I probably let her get away with way too much because it was often easier to take the path of least resistance or because in some cases I realized that I had chosen the wrong side in the battle -- or actually that there didn't even need to BE any sides and I would relent.

But apparently, her tantrums have extended to school and if she doesn't get her way, she screams. And Punkin can scream really loudly. Her teacher told me that she has told Punkin that she needs to "use her words" and we've recently implemented some new rules around here.

But in the discussion with her teacher, I also found out that Punkin often refuses to play with her classmates. If she's in the library in her class, or in the little tent they have set up, she'll tell her friends to leave her alone. I was a little nonplussed and a little concerned because that explained why Punkin will sometimes tell me "Nobody played with me today." No, nobody will play with you if just five minutes before you yelled at them to leave you alone.

And then today when I picked her up, her afternoon teacher approached me a puzzled look on her face. "She had a good day," she said. "But she doesn't want to play with us in the afternoon. We're playing a game and she doesn't want to play."

"Huh." I replied. "Maybe she just wants to do her own thing." But the teacher didn't seem to want to let it go. It seemed to bother her that I was unconcerned. And that in turn made me concerned that I was unconcerned. Should I be concerned? Am I raising an antisocial misanthrope?

Or is she really just a mini me? As a child I was often content to play alone. Sure, I had friends, but I was often ready for them to go home long before it was actually time for them to go. I was never a telephone talker, even as a teenager. I'd chat for a few minutes before I'd say "Well, I have to go now."

Even today, though I enjoy the company of friends and have been making a concerted effort to "put myself out there," I still enjoy being alone. I think it's a sign of self sufficiency and I don't think it's a bad thing. So, for once, I'm not going to worry about it.

The title of this post, by the way, is what my mom and brother used to say to me when I would get angry and yell at them to leave me alone. This reply would only enrage me more.


AndreAnna said...

I wouldn't worry about it either. Everybody is different, it's great she likes her own company. Too many people are afraid to be alone.

Lauren said...

Lil' C often prefers to play by herself and for a while I fought it....tried to push her into being social-but then I realized how unhappy and stressed out it was making her. She is completely happy playing by herself...and I was just pushing my own agenda on her. Not good! So i definitely think you are doing the right thing by not worrying about it. Especially at this age!

calicobebop said...

I totally fine being alone. I've never been one of those girls that always had to have someone around. Muffin likes company but she's fine by herself as well. I think it's healthy to be self-suffienct. At least, that's what I keep telling myself... :)

for a different kind of girl said...

I always liked doing my own thing as a kid, and my sister, who to this day always needs to be entertained by others, used to get me in trouble with my parents because I'd not play a game with her or whatever because I just wanted to read or listen to music in my room. I'd definitely keep up with what you're doing as far as what you mentioned regarding behavior, but I think we can do a disservice to our kids if we don't teach them or allow them to be independent, too.

Katie in MA said...

I agree. If she's behaving and having fun, just let her be. I might worry if she was doing it *all* the time and would never join social/circle time. But don't forget that you know your children best and if you think she's age-appropriate in social and solo activities, then meh! Don't worry about it! said...

Ha! And yes, I bet it was designed to do just that... enrage you more!
I agree with you, don't worry about it just yet. I bet it will work itself out. If she wants to have anything at all to do with the other kids, and of course she does, she will soon learn that she shouldn't talk to them like that. It'll just take time.

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