The other day, my youngest daughter was being shy.
We were at the park and there were several other girls playing nearby. Including a girl she knew — albeit slightly — from her softball team.
Strangely, she didn’t want to go play. Instead, she became even clingier than normal. She glued herself to my side and wouldn’t let go of my hand.
“Just go play,” I told her.
“I don’t want to,” she said.
That surprised me. The other girls seemed to be having fun. They were racing about, climbing, laughing.
Emma, on the other hand, latched on to me like we were standing at the edge of a 3,000-foot cliff. I could see that, for whatever reason, joining that other group was going to be a hard sell.
“Okay,” I said. I gently disengaged myself, and this time she let me.
She went off and started playing on her own. All the while, she kept a keen eye on me and made sure I was watching. “Look at me!” she yelled every two or three minutes. “Did you see that, Daddy?”
I could tell she wanted to be social by the way she was keeping me involved. So the next time she came close, I tried again.
“Why don’t you go play with those other girls?”
“I don’t want to.”
“Why not? They look like they’re having fun.”
“I’m already having fun.”
“But wouldn’t you have even more fun if you were playing with the other girls?”
She could tell that this time I wasn’t going to give in so easily. So she decided to turn the tables on me instead. She answered my question with a question of her own.