Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Pre-Transplanted Dad: Shy as a Whistle Pig

I wrote this five years ago today... part of my motivation for sharing it may or may not be tied to how much I like the phrase "whistle pig."

Well, it is Groundhog Day, and the one in Pennsylvania saw no shadow for only the 16th time.  Legend has it that if he sees his shadow, the reason he goes back into his stump, or hole, or wherever, is due to fright, even though in reality a groundhog (also known as a whistle pig or woodchuck) is a rather tenacious creature.  Even if prognosticators like Punxsutawney Phi are afraid of their shadows, is that such a bad thing?  More to the point, is a student necessarily worse off if he or she is more of a shrinking violet in the classroom?  I can't speak from experience on this matter, at least from the student standpoint.  As a third grader I was once punished with the loss of outdoor recess privileges because I overzealously answered a question by shouting out my response when the teacher was deliberately ignoring me so that other students could be given a chance to participate in the class.  I was still the very same, "Ooh, ooh, pick me!" type in high school too.  But I certainly don't see that approach as the only means of being successful now that I'm the one doing the question asking and not the hand raising.  Ever year I have several students who fit the category of "shy" that do exceedingly well in the class.  Through assessments, particularly essays, these students demonstrate knowledge and skills that are no less well developed than their more vocal and actively involved peers.

When I consider how this relates to my son, it doesn't seem to, at least for now.  At the moment, it is very difficult to imagine him being anything besides outgoing.  He talks almost non-stop, and even if some translation is required (fish is currently "shiFF"), he yearns to be social with both family and new acquaintances.  While I know his current gregarious nature is not an absolute guarantee that he will be as genial ten years from now, it is hard to envision him any other way.  Regardless of whether or not my son, or any future children I may have, ends up being an introverted teen or an extroverted one, I know that both sides of the coin can be successful in the classroom-- and one side of it is a lot less likely to end up alone at a desk while everyone else is playing at recess.

With five more years of fatherhood under my belt since writing this, and watching my son's personality progress over the past half-decade, it is clear that my son enjoys the spotlight-- on his terms.  He absolutely trends toward being outgoing, but can be shy at times too.  His cousins recently paid us a visit, and to thank one of them for his help in finishing an intense Lego build, my son decided to write him a song.  But, when it came to performing it, my son requested that I sing it with him.

It has been fascinating to see him become a multi-layered person, and to note which traits he seems to have gotten from his mom, and which ones seem to stem directly from me.  My most important takeaway has been to simply enjoy who he is now, because he is constantly progressing toward an older, wiser person.  I want to enjoy this "age of innocence," one where he puts faith in rodent weather forecasts, to its fullest extent while it lasts.

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