10/05/2012 11:20 am ET Updated Dec 05, 2012

The Quiet Struggle of Having a Shy Kid

Written by Samantha Bee for

I have a shy child. Maybe even two of them. And if I work really really hard at it, maybe I can achieve the coveted shyness trifecta when my third child is old enough for us to know for sure!

Ha ha ha, oh... sigh... (mirthless laughter slowly fades).

Listen, my children come by it honestly. I, dear friends, am a shy woman. A shy woman, who started out as a shy baby, morphed into some weird human/shy-person/performer and a woman who will most definitely enter her Golden Years as Shy Oldie, Person Least Likely To Attend The Shady Acres Holiday Mixer.

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Believe me, I do not relish my shyness. (And let me say up front that I am only talking about plain old, run-of-the-mill shyness here, the terrible at small talk/party-dreading kind -- but it still sucks and it always has.)

The only reason I bring it up is that now I see it so clearly in my kids, and ugh, and argh. Crap. Hell. Flargh.

Man, did I ever try not to pass my shyness down to my kids. I can't even tell you the number of times I braved children's pizza parties and American Girl Doll Dolly Spa Days to forestall the progression of their shyness, all of it against my will since I, as previously mentioned, am shy myself. I was really brave. I gave myself a sticker.

Anyway, here we are, the first week of school has passed, and it was not, shall we say, smooth. My 6-year-old is now taking a morning bus, a bus with older children, a scary (not scary), unsupervised (fully supervised) gigantic (state-of-the-art, half-sized) bus, filled with strangers (lots of friends and familiar faces) all the way across town for an hour (5 minutes)! And the bus driver yells (one time he said "keep it down" to someone else)!

School itself is great, but the morning bus has been challenging -- it's just so sad sending a shy, crying child who came out of your body onto a bus she so clearly dislikes. What a terrible way to start all of our days, and yet, for now, it's our only option.

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If I'm being honest with myself, I would have hated the bus, too. I would hate it even as an adult. (Wait. Is there coffee on the bus? Can I read the paper by myself? Is it a quiet bus? Hold up -- I think I just changed my mind.)

But still, I totally get that feeling of watching other people cut loose and have a good time, while you yourself feel powerless to join in, of appearing to others that you are the Fun Police. I was so bad at cutting loose myself as a child, that my family doctor prescribed a placebo medicine for me, a bottle of sticky green syrup that my grandmother would give me just for these types of social situations. That, and coffee cake, of course. There's always the coffee cake.

We're completely torn between "Gentle child, I honor your bus related anxiety, come nestle in my warm bosom" and "Suck it up. I love you, but suck it up."

Related: 6 things you should NEVER say to a shy kid

Ultimately, I think that navigating the waters of your comfort zone is entirely personal. There's no avoiding the fact that once you go to school, there's not very much your parents can do to insulate you from all negative experiences, as hard as we all may try. ACK. So stressful!

(Just writing this blog post, I bit all my nails off.)

The Takeaway: Nobody look at my hands again until my youngest child is 30. This is going to be one hell of a bumpy bus ride.

To find out Sam's rule for introducing her shy kids to new people, visit Babble!


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