After writing my last post, “At Home: The Leader and the Caretaker“, I felt like I had to write the other half of that story. The fact of the matter is, as strong as their “home” personalities are – they are quite different out in public. For B, the change is drastic.
When people see us and interact with us in public, I have no doubt that if they don’t know me, they think C takes charge and B is super shy. They would be correct, because that’s exactly what happens when we’re in unfamiliar places. This was no more apparent to me than at an outing last week.
I took the twins to a friend’s house for a playdate, who also has twins, though about a year younger. We don’t see these toddler friends often, and they happen to be super outgoing. At first, as usual, my twins started out quietly – they’re both timid around new people and it takes them a little while to warm up. After a while, though, C starts to forget her shyness and plays with the toys and talks and – opens up. That’s what happened on this playdate. But B – he is always totally and completely out of his league.
The saddest moment was when he was inside a toy car at the end of the backyard. Far away from myself or his sister, he was stuck in the grass and wanted a push. I saw him whisper quietly, “Mommy, can you help me please?” I saw my friend’s twins scamper down to him, so I waited to see what would happen. Well, one twin took the front of the car (to pull) and the other twin took the back of the car (to push) and B….well, B put his head in his hands, covered his eyes, and essentially “hid” his face, waiting for it to be over. Unable to speak to them, unable to acknowledge his desires (for them to go away, I’d imagine), and unable to rely on me to help, he found his mental happy place and just – shut out the life around him.
I felt as sad for him in that moment as I do when C tries to solve B’s problems to make him happy. I don’t even know if sad is the right word. I felt – emotional. Have I done something wrong? Is this even a problem? Will it always be like this? My son was scared, lonely and sad – and he handled it by hiding his face.
I suppose he could’ve reacted aggressively – he could’ve pushed the twins out of his way, could’ve screamed at them – but that’s not really my son. At home, I’ll hear lots of “mine” coming from his mouth. In public, any child could take a toy right from his hands and he wouldn’t say or do a darn thing.
In public, B barely says a word. The dominating, decision-making boy at home can’t get comfortable when we’re not at home. Obviously, I need to continue to take him out, which I’ll do. And I imagine age and preschool will help with this. Still, the change in him right now is SO drastic.
Something else happened on this playdate that was an eye-opener for me, regarding B and his sensitive nature. Yes, even though he’s dominating at home, he’s actually really sensitive. One of my friend’s twins had an incident that caused her lots of tears. She was okay – no injuries. While she cried, C stared at her, and B….sought out my leg, threw his hands over his eyes, and laid his head on me. Without crying himself, he let me know that he was upset. I don’t know if he was scared. I know that when there’s crying on TV, he leaves the room. When C cries, he doesn’t act this way. He either ignores her or asks her if she wants a hug. But anyone else – and he doesn’t know what to do or feel.
With a baby coming in a few months, I’ve been talking to the twins about how babies cry all the time, and it’s not because they’re sad. I don’t know how he’s going to handle baby tears, but I do know that out in public, he is not himself, and he’s generally not happy. Totally out of his comfort zone. C, meanwhile, adjusts easier. She’s not quite out-going, but she’s appropriately happy and social.