The Challenge Of Raising Extra Social Children


The Challenge Of Raising Extra Social ChildrenDo you ever find yourself in a certain situation and wonder, “How on earth did I get here?” That’s exactly what I said to myself a couple of weeks ago as I was walking through the Target parking lot, holding my daughter’s hand in one hand and the hand of a two-year old little boy, whom neither of us had met before, in the other.

How did we get here you ask? Three words: extra social children!

As an only child, my daughter looks for every opportunity to make a friend. And that’s great. I envy her ability to make connections so quickly. My problem, however, is that it never stops at just friends, she becomes best friends within a matter of minutes.

Our hot spots for new best friends?

Why, the library, of course! We have started going to family reads at the library every Saturday morning, and while we don’t usually leave with a book, we do leave with a new BFF. The first time, Sophie met Nola. They bonded over puppets and vowed to spend every Saturday together from then on. Next, we met Josie. They bonded over imaginary strawberry lemonade and shared actual cupcakes. They made plans to take dance lessons. Then we met Lydia and her brother, which leads us to the opening story. We shared a table during story time, which led the girls to bond over watercolor and their mutual love of dresses. An hour and endless chatter of princesses and ballerina dreams later, we discovered we both had plans for Target; we arrived at Target at the exact same time, walked in together, and followed each other through the aisles. Sophie was in Heaven, me, not so much.

While my daughter is an outgoing ball of social energy, at my current place in life, I am decidedly anti-social. Around friends and family, I socialize comfortably, but around strangers, I prefer silence. I actually thrive in it. Whereas in my younger years I may have tried to force connections with small talk and mindless chatter, I actually like the silence now. Nothing of substance to say? I’ll just sit here and contently stare straight ahead, bliss. But now, with my social butterfly of a child, I am forced to make small talk with countless parents and children, even hold hands with complete strangers as we walk through the toy aisle.

I usually try to cut these uncomfortable moments short with claims of, “It’s lunch time, got to go!” or “Nap time!” This last time, my plan for a Target distraction completely backfired. As it turns out, our new friends were going to Target too, and that’s how I ended up holding the hand of a sweet little two-year-old boy whom I had never seen before in my life. And next thing I knew, we were following each other, aisle after aisle, the girls filling their respective cart with toy after toy. I had to make it stop! Target is my sanctuary; even with my daughter in tow, we usually have a peaceful shopping experience, but this, this was chaos! I finally made up an excuse and we said our good-byes at the toy aisle and went our separate ways. I saw them a couple more times that day but quickly ducked and weaved, detection and awkwardness diverted!

I can’t be the only parent that literally cringes at the thought of having to make small talk and forced conversation with others due to our extra social children. It is wild! While I may have to hide a grimace and awkwardly fumble my way through, I do hope my daughter keeps this skill of easy connection.

I hope she always sees that special spark in others and sees the ways in which it aligns to her own spark. But I do hope she saves the awkward Target runs for her dad next time!


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