Thursday, April 12, 2012

Out of her Shell

Alice has been working her way through a shy streak that seems slowly to be coming to an end.  On more than one occasion, she has spent the first hour and a half of a birthday party clinging like a monkey around my neck or Matt's, with her head down on our shoulder and, for added security, her eyes clamped shut.

I can't tell you how many times I have shrugged and apologized after a nice old lady on an elevator or in line for coffee tried to elicit a smile from Alice and received a scowl in return.  It's been funny for me, and somehow surprising every time, to see that type of behavior from her, when she so engaging and communicative at home.

Alice absolutely adores our young neighbors, and eagerly shouts out their names any time I ask a question (Me: "What should we do today, Alice?" Alice: "Anna!"; Me: "Alice, do you know who comes to visit on the night before Easter?" Alice: "Livvy!"; Me: "Do you know who is coming to visit us all the way from California?" Alice: "Flynny!").  She sees them nearly every day and even so, for a while, her interactions with them mostly consisted of careful observation and following behind. 

Lately though, Alice has been taking more of an initiative in her interactions with her little buddies.  For example, while standing next to one of the other children, she'll suddenly scream "race!"and then plow across the lawn, clearly expecting the other child to follow, while the intended competitor takes a few seconds, and then bounds after Alice.  And while before she would furrow her brow and turn away when one of her friend's parents asked her a question or looked in her general direction, now she makes eye contact and occasionally even unleashes on them a torrent of very earnest toddler babble, complete with animated gesticulation.

On Easter, we returned to the home of some friends where previously, during a birthday party, Alice pulled the old try-as-hard-as-she-can-to-melt-into-my-shoulder trick. This time, she chattered with the other kids, willingly rode the slide and swings from the start, and even returned a few smiles from the adults.  The father of the hostess (and grandfather to the three-year-old birthday boy of a few weeks earlier) commented on Alice's newfound openness.  "She's like a whole different child", he remarked. I thought about it and realized that he was right.  Often it takes an outsider to notice the slow changes.  That's part of the reason that I keep up this blog: looking over the posts from the past 20 months, I barely recognize that little baby from 2010, and the stories that go with the photos seem like ancient history, even though nothing seemed so different from one day to the next.  I guess, one day, this post will be no exception.

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