I’ve never once regretted having children at such a young age. People used to always marvel at how I was engaged at 19, married at 21, and had my first kid at 22. I’ve wanted kids for as long as I can remember so it made no sense to wait. Even now, I still don’t really think it was a bad idea, but I have just found a flaw in my logic. We had our daughter at such a young age that none of our friends or the people we saw on a regular basis had kids of their own. What that meant was that my daughter spent all of her time among adults. This seemed great at first because she became a very intelligent and very mature (mentally that is) kid. Even now she can understand and cope with situations better than most. But the one downfall of that is that she never really learned to interact with other kids. She’s not used to kids coming up to her and asking her to play, or trying to hold her hand and lead her off to some game.
So tonight was her first night of dance class. My wife and I figured that if she is to ever break out of this phase of not being able to interact with other kids than we have to start forcing her out of it. Baptism by fire if you will. We weren’t at all surprised when she got there and was extremely shy. Eventually the occasion ended in a fit of tears, which was unfortunate. I’m convinced that all of this is because she is so much more accustomed to dealing with adults. We’ve always spoken to her, in the same way we would adults. We never did baby talk. We also have never shielded her from any concept or situation. her dog died, and we explained it. We didn’t say she was asleep or ran away. She saw us having sex one day and we explained it. Her two friends, really her only two kid friends, moved away and she dealt with it like a trooper. She’s an extremely intelligent and creative girl, and 99% of the people she meets, don’t know it because she won’t really break out of her shell.
I was pretty much the same way when I was growing up. I spent most of my time imagining, dreaming, creating, and contemplating. I didn’t have many friends, and didn’t interact with hardly anyone my own age. I felt more comfortable with my older brother’s friends, and around adults. They just all seemed to have more relevant things to say. She is cursed with this same type of personality.
While I hated to do it, I had to have a very tough talk with her when we got home, and explain that if she didn’t participate in the dance class and get along with the other girls that there would be consequences. I don’t like this type of reinforcement. I prefer to reward her for positive behavior instead of punishing her for negative behavior and I don’t want her to have any negative associations with this, but I don’t see any other way. It’s going to be rough breaking her out of her shell, just as it was for me, but unfortunately for her she a father who is terribly interested in her and will not leave her inside of her own head for the next 14 years. I don’t want her to go through any of what I had to go through.