Recently we noticed that Ethan gets easily agitated when faced with strangers, especially those in close proximity with him. It was as if he felt his personal space being invaded when these strangers come into close contact with him. Strangers to him also meant people whom he had not seen in a long while, friends and relatives included. This behavior is especially apparent when the *stranger* looks at him and starts *talking* to him. It could be just a harmless “Hello!” or “Hi!” and Ethan would retort with a sharp whine and squeal as if to say “Don’t disturb me!” Surprisingly, he is okay in the malls where there are lots of people around but when these people start interacting with him, he becomes uncomfortable. I’ve read and heard that this is a phase some toddlers go through.
So Pete and I decided that we needed to put a change to that and make him less afraid of strangers. We reckoned we could turn things around if we brought him to places where there were a lot of people who would interact with him, and vice versa. This does not just mean the malls, but gatherings and parties as well.
Last weekend gave us two opportunities to do so. The first was a barbecue party with Pete’s co-workers at Gold Coast. Ethan was obviously very uncomfortable among all the people there and stuck to Pete and me like glue. It was really hot too, so that did not help the situation at all. Nevertheless, Ethan was very fascinated by the swimming pool and we had to take him there several times just to make him happy. There was also a mini playground area, with a rotational tic-tac-toe board which kept him occupied for a while too. Oh, and he went topless for the second part of the evening because of the immense heat 😛 And because he would not let Pete or me go, we could not take any pictures to commemorate the occasion. But just imagine this: Barbecued ribs, grilled shrimp, smoky air, very HOT. ’nuff said.
Two days later on Sunday, I took Ethan to his playgroup. This time saw the most attendees ever since we started the playgroup. Ethan and I were the first to arrive at Charlotte‘s house. I brought along Ethan’s toy train to be shared with the rest of the kiddies when they arrived (was I glad I did, because it was met with enthusiasm from all the kids!). Wei Xuan, Hin Lerk, Ching Ern and Sze Yi also came armed with their toys, full of energy and of course, with their Mommies.
Throughout the playgroup, Ethan was very vocal, although we could not comprehend what he was trying to say. Of course, we entertained him by responding in a manner we thought he understood. We were actually hoping that Ethan would be able to pick up a few words from Wei Xuan, but instead Xuan chose to communicate with Ethan in a language only Ethan and she could understand: baby blabbering! That was hilarious!
I really feel the playgroup is an excellent avenue for the kids to enjoy themselves and interact with other kids. It is so important to have that available for them especially at this formative age, because they can learn so many things: Sharing, imitating (good things, I hope), leadership and expressing themselves, among others. Plus, it is a good time for us mothers to chit chat too!
So we had two group interaction sessions for Ethan over the weekend, and guess what, we are already reaping the benefits. Yesterday when we were in the lift and 2 other people came in, Ethan was not that shy anymore! He did not let out a cry of disdain when they spoke to him, instead he smiled at them, lifted his arm and then leaned his head on Pete’s shoulder. This morning he did the same thing when one uncle came into the lift with us too! I definitely see progress!