Social Anxiety and Trying To Not Screw Up My Kid
For two hours every week my kid is in a preschool Maori Language play group. It’s a great little program. The kids sing songs, listen to stories, have snack time and a free play time all designed to encourage language skills, social skills, and cultural awareness.
I hate it. It is the worst two hours of the week, it’s walking hell, and it’s not them it’s me. I’m not good with people. Or maybe I am but I never feel like it. One on one I’m okay as long as I know the person. I can even handle being with two other people if I’m on form. But a dozen adults plus kids in a little church basement makes me want to scream then curl into a ball and cry for half an hour. I had a miserable job for years that I partially kept because I only ever had to talk to two or three people a night. I could avoid group situations easily and once I could order pizza online I could even avoid that conversation. It was great!
Then I went and became a parent. I knew I would have to deal with other people more often but I never thought it would be this bad. It shouldn’t be. We all have the same problems, potty training, tantrums, food fussiness, worries about school zones. I should be able to make small talk every week, or even more than small talk. I’ve known these other parents for close to two years. That doesn’t seem to matter. I open my mouth, something comes out and panic sets in. Did I say the right thing? Do I sound dumb or snobby? Did I just insult someone’s kid? Should I be adding more to this conversation? Less? Do they care? Do they all secretly hate me and are waiting for my kid to age out of the program? Should I just take two steps back and pretend I’m not here? Their kid just took a toy from my kid. Do I take it from their kid? Do I encourage my kid to take it back? Will it sound like I’m encouraging fighting? Their kid is a little shit mine could totally take theirs.
Why the fuck am I doing this!?
Oh, yeah, so my kid doesn’t end up like me.
Socialize your kids. That’s what today’s parents keep getting told. Make sure they spend as much time as possible around other kids and never give them sugar or let them watch TV because if you don’t follow these guidelines your child will become a sociopath.
Truthfully I just want mine to be able to call a tech support line without spending five minutes rehearsing what she’s going to say first while praying like hell that the person on the other end doesn’t deviate from the script. I’d like her to be able to go to a party without feeling the need to double up on medication first. I’d like her to not need medication at all and not be half crippled at the idea of talking to a stranger. I’d like her to have friends she sees face to face and be able to make new ones.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be working. She just turned three and it’s arguable possibly just a phase but she keeps the playgroup kids at arm’s length even though she’s known some for literally half her life. If a kid at the park wants to play with her she walks away. If a kid at the park touches the same equipment she’s on she walks away. According to her preschool teachers she has one kid she plays with and if he goes off to play with another kid she just plays on her own. I’m told she’s very good on her own.
It is just a phase. Yep. Just a phase. Just a phase. Just a phase. Just a phase.
The other day the play group parents were having a meeting while the kids were supposed to be playing with each other. Mine crawled up on my lap and informed me, with her advanced for her age language skills, that she wanted to go and get sushi then go home. It had been a bad day all around and I actually said ‘If I can do this for fifteen more minutes so can you’. And of course I said this just loud enough for half the parents to hear. I’m sure the Doctor Who t-shirts aren’t helping my social standing either.
Why am I doing this? I’m trying not to fuck up my kid. And it sucks.