It always happens, at the end of a family get together, a play date, or a class, when the time comes to leave we ask our children to say goodbye to people. It’s respectful to kindly thank someone for their hospitality, time, or friendship, and either share a hug, high five, or at the very least, a smile. But for my child, it is a stressful situation that makes him really uncomfortable. So I’ve stopped forcing him to say goodbye to people and now I want to stop apologizing for it.
photo by Annie Wiegers Photography
My oldest, Crumb, is the sweetest little guy. Seriously, I could go on and on, so indulge me for a minute. Crumb is 4.5 years old and a friend to everyone. That’s literally what one of his preschool teachers said to Mr. Cookie and myself; Crumb knows what activities and toys he likes to play with, but everyone is always welcome to join him. When I see Crumb playing with his little brother or one of his cousins, I often see him letting them start the game, play with the toy first, or get the color they desire. Crumb is intelligent, empathetic, curious, and has a relatively easy time with school and transitions. But Crumb is also very shy and sensitive. He doesn’t like being the center of attention, ever. For example, we couldn’t sing happy birthday to him for a few years, and he always gets very nervous when it comes to preschool performances or parades (and sometimes refuses to participate), and relating back to the point of this post, Crumb is terrible at saying goodbye to people.
I know I don’t have to defend my child, or make a huge disclaimer, but I’ve had enough uncomfortable situations to know that sometimes people expect them of me. We can be having a wonderful time but at the mention of goodbye or us leaving, my son is suddenly looking at the ground or hiding behind me. Gentle coaxing doesn’t help, and instead forces him to say, “I don’t want to do that.” I know most parents get it, and often agree with me that I shouldn’t force my son to do something that causes him anxiety, but when his little friends or cousins ask for a hug, I know that they don’t understand why Crumb is refusing. Naturally the other parent feels bad for their confused child who is being ignored, and then I feel bad for everyone involved so I start making excuses and apologizing and it becomes a frustrating moment.