I started taking my daughter out for socialization opportunities as soon as I could. Naturally she always clung to her mother. She preferred to observe rather than interact and that was perfectly acceptable. I just assumed that we were raising a more introverted child and that was fine with me. I am more of an extrovert and my husband is a bit more introverted, so we embrace both types in this family. She was wary of strangers (thankfully she still is) and of close acquaintances alike. Usually it took her a while to warm up to anyone. While all of that is still more or less true there has been a major shift that has taken place.
A while back she announced to me, "I'm not going to be shy anymore." I gave her some words of encouragement, but didn't realize that she meant what she said. Now, don't misunderstand she is still wary of strangers and quietly observant in new or strange situations, but once she feels comfortable this little lady transforms into a major extrovert. Who knew?
When we stop at the health food store we regularly shop she likes to chat up the check-out staff, handing them items to scan, giving loud commentary, etc.. She has been known to give the Miss America wave (who taught her that?!) and to approach kids at the playground saying, "Hello, my name is Cordelia and this is my friend Mommy." While at the library story time she went right up to the front and decided to talk directly to the lady who reads to the group (she was reminded to sit quietly on several occasions by myself and the library lady). She just doesn't seem to feel that same shyness that she previously did.
While I don't know if this extroversion is a permanent phenomenon or just a phase it is such fun to watch my very unique (helmet to dinner anyone?) little character of a girl develop into the person she is going to be. She has inspired me with her simple declaration of change. She identified something that she wanted to change in herself and she did it.
I think we could all stand to remember how easy it is to just be the person we want to be, extrovert or introvert, helmet wearing or otherwise.