No one believes me when I tell them I’m shy. Usually that statement is met with rolled eyes and “Yeah right” scoffs. It’s true though. I’m actually quite shy. Underneath this big old cackle and Carol Burnett sense of humor is a person begging to just go home and not people.
You probably don’t believe me, and that’s okay. No one does. My mom didn’t either, even after my pre-school teacher told her that I had been hiding in the storage closet for the entire first four months of school. That’s right. First four months …
Imagine this, my perfect mother (practically a saint), sitting at lunch with her friends chatting. Suzy talks about how her daughter Heather painted some beautiful trees at pre-K, and Patty retorts that Stacy really enjoys the puppet time. Then Donna chimes in about how Heidi brought home a beautiful macaroni necklace. Pretty soon they all look over their glasses of lemonade at my angel mother, and she just looks back at them: “Kelly likes snacks.”
But then she thought, “Shouldn’t Kelly be bringing things home? Why isn’t my daughter painting? Why don’t I have a macaroni necklace? Kelly could be doing puppet shows. Is my child a failure? What is happening with my oldest child?”
So, naturally my mom did what any first time parent would do — she called my pre-K teacher.
I attended a Lutheran pre-K that was located at the top of a hill. Navigating this was kind of like a neat kind of torture for mom because she drove an automatic car with a parking brake that sometimes worked, resorting in her putting the parking brake on (praying it would work) and walking me in. ... but that usually meant the car would go rolling down the hill with my baby sister still in the car. So, typically mom only ever waved at the teachers and I did a quick “tuck and roll” at the sidewalk as she drove away.
Due to this cute little car adventure we had going on, Mom hadn’t noticed that I didn’t want to go inside the school. You see, I loved my mom so much, I didn’t want to be away from her. It was hard on me. Mom was amazing, and the school was cool and all, but mom was cooler.
But I digress.
The day came where mom decided to talk to my teachers in person so she dropped my baby sister Katey off with my grandma and accompanied me to school. She said, “Kelly, go on in and do what you normally do. I’m going to talk to your teachers.”
So, I did what I normally did. I walked in, hung up my coat and stoically walked to the supply closet, where I turned and shut the door.
I remember watching my mom look at me like, “Oh my, I have years of therapy to pay for” as I shut that door.
She turned and went to talk to the teachers, and I sat in the closet.
An hour later, they rang the snack bell, and I came out ... happy as could be. I would sit by my friends and chat about what they had been doing, and then after snack, I’d go right back to my closet.
Kind of like Harry Potter, but not nearly as magical.
Now don’t be sad for me. I loved being in the closet. I loved the quiet. I had quite the active imagination. I could plan all the activities I wanted to do when I got home, come out and eat snacks, spend some time with my friends ... just the right amount of time, and then go back to the closet.
Naturally, mom was alarmed and told the teachers she thought they should encourage me to “come out of the closet” and play.
After that my quiet time in the storage closet ended.
I’d also like to add that after I had to join the general population, a little boy in the play group started biting me all of the time, so badly that I even had to go to the doctor. I really held back some “I told you so” looks and statements to my mom when she would pick me up and my little arms would be covered in band aids.
My mom never really let me be shy after that, and encouraged me to pursue the theater which in hindsight worked out for me. So, I pretend to not be shy. I act like I’m not.
But secretly, I’m just out here in the world looking for snacks.