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the one about strangers having weird expectations for a toddler

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I get asked a lot if Charlie ever smiles. Short answer - well, of course. He smiles and laughs and screeches with joy, just like most toddlers. But, it's true, his default mode is serious. He is a thinker. He is very smart, so I imagine that he has a lot going on under that mess of strawberry blond hair. People have weird expectations for kids. Strangers are always trying to get him to smile at them. I find it super weird when they are offended when he doesn't. Maybe he's just not that into you, person-completely-unknown-to-him-in-the-doctor's-office-waiting-room. Charlie can be pretty reserved around people he doesn't know. If a firefighter offering him a fire hat and stickers can't even get a smile out of him, there is not much hope for a random lady in the grocery store. As an introvert, myself, I wouldn't even give it a second thought, if it weren't for the comments. I'm not usually swayed by the comments of strangers, but I have yet to come up with a response that I am happy with. I have said, "oh, he is shy." But I actually hate that one. It has such a negative connotation. And he isn't shy in some circumstances. Reserved? Selective? Ha. That one sounds rude. He just doesn't like you. Nervous around people? That is terrible. See? I've got nothing. My oldest son was the same way, but he always had a special stuffed animal with him....a large one. That deflected most of the attention. He was perfectly happy when someone asked him about his guy.....and strangers were perfectly happy with his "acceptable" reaction. Charlie just leans back into me, as far as possible, to create some distance, and sizes people up from there. No one seems to find that as cute. Oh, the problems of the introvert. Welcome to the club, Charlie. It's awesome. We have books, and video games, and quiet walks....the space to create, the silence to think, and the time to dream. Someday you will have a smile waiting for a stranger, but that will take time. Until then, I've got your back. I won't make excuses or apologies for you. I will just let you be you. Or maybe I'll just wait until they get close, and tell them, "Watch out, he bites!" :) july14

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