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Samantha Bee and Allana Harkin

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Samantha Bee is a Correspondent on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and she is the author of I Know I Am, But What Are You. Her body of work is best characterized as "unserious."

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I Woke Up This Morning and My Child Was Still Shy

By Samantha Bee |

I Vant To Be Alone!


Part Two

On Monday I wrote about having shy children, and the effect that was having on our morning routine, as in ‘not good’.

Then today I woke up, and BOOM–there they were–still shy.

And you know what? I actually think it’s OK to be shy. At any rate, I better get behind it, because it’s not as if I have a choice in the matter.

Of course I didn’t want it for my children, but who am I to say that life is hard for someone of moderate shyness; look at me, I was shy, and I turned out OK. I still cry at parties sometimes, but I do that in the privacy of a locked stall in a ladies restroom, not in front of everybody. I mean, if I went to the party, that is. Which I probably didn’t. One time, I screamed at a party, inadvertently, from nervousness. My husband thinks I am crazy. He no longer offers to take me to parties.

I like farmers markets.

But I digress.

As a child there was nothing that made me retreat further into shyness than having someone tell me I was shy. Nothing made me cry harder or grow quieter than being instructed to be less shy at an event in which I was supposed to be having fun, or somehow required to have fun. Like at whiffle ball. Oh God, whiffle ball. Ugh. I wrote that down and became eight again. Barf.

We had a dog, prior to having our children, and found that she didn’t really like anybody but us. She wasn’t aggressive or anything, just aloof. Well, I can’t tell you how mortally offended people would get that our dog wasn’t interested in them. It was as though everyone felt that the dog had peered into their soul, not liked what she had seen, and decided they were sub-mortal. They felt that the dog was judging them somehow—that they were such good people that animals should just come to them and feed from their hands like St. Francis of Assisi. And when she didn’t—they were wounded.

I feel that it’s often the same way with shy children. My kids are slow to get to know people, and I’m OK with that. I don’t force them to talk to people they don’t know. I don’t care if people think it’s rude—it’s really not personal.

I’m simply not going to tell my kids not to talk to strangers on one hand, and them expect them to understand why there are endless exceptions to the rule.  But people do seem to think it’s rude, or at least, sometimes. But I can’t care about that right now; there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to take other peoples’ insecurities onboard this rickety old jalopy of our own insecurities, OK? Thanks for understanding. I gotta get my kid on that bus!

I feel like as a shy person, the least I can do as a parent is let my kids figure out what their own comfort zones are, and that it’s acceptable, desirable even, to NOT be a people pleaser all the time. Even if you’re adorable, or very traditional, or just very old, I let my children have the space to come to you, and I don’t try to force it.

That being said, I would dearly love it if my child could find some way to LOVE that stupid morning bus. Because I want her to have a good school experience. I don’t want her to think of school as some colossal MORNING BUS that takes you someplace whatever whatever where you go do math until it’s time for the AFTERNOON BUS, which is then just a short eighteen hours away from the dreaded MORNING BUS again.

Any suggestions?

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Check out other posts by  Sam and Allana:

In which Allana tackles pacifiers!

In which I am mocked by my own flesh and blood

In which I reveal that I am a super-fan of Def Leppard




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About Samantha Bee


Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee is a Correspondent on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and she is the author of I Know I Am, But What Are You. Her body of work is best characterized as "unserious." Read bio and latest posts → Read Samantha's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “I Woke Up This Morning and My Child Was Still Shy

  1. Momoffour says:

    Putting my kindergardener on the bus for the first day of school was horrible…for me! He seemed ok with it. He is a shy kid, too. Sometimes he gets to sit next to one of his (i should say his ONE) friend at school, and that makes him happy, although since we are almost the last stop that doesnt always happen. Anyway, i would say if possible, just drive your kid to school! Next year you can give the bus another try. I feel like next year will be super easy because his brother will get on the bus with him and he will never be alone again, whether he likes it or not, ha ha.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Sam, thank you so much for writing this. My 3 year old is selectively shy, which is harder for other people (I am fine with it though.) She is shy with her grandparents, but fine with her aunts. This causes some family discord. It is nice to be reminded not to apologize for my perfectly imperfect little human who has a mind of her own and opinions, and yes, is shy and slow to socialize. Please keep talking about your shy humans!

    I think socialization is like vegetables. It is my job to introduce her to new situations (or bok choy) but it is not my responsibility to make her consume or enjoy them.

  3. Lori says:

    It’s so great to finally hear a story of another parent going through the same anxieties I am having!!! My son just started kindergarten and we are having such a hard time with the transition. All the parents keep saying they’re kids are doing great, made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Thanks for the article and keep up the honesty. It really helps us parents!

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