We went to a party recently. A baby shower. And although there were other children there, Zoe was clearly the life of the party. She is friendly and delightful, even with strangers, so after a few minutes of assessing the room and the number of grownups in it, she began to work it.
She interacted with people. Looked in their purses, named the things she found. Tossed a ball to them and tried to catch it when they tossed back. Asked for foods and drinks by name and said please (when reminded). Gleefully chased and played with the cats and dog. Followed the older kids around and watched them with total fascination. Cleaned up the paper from the present-opening, and helped to break in some of the more exciting gifts.
And although of course I was always aware of her location, and I checked on her if things got quiet (because a 19-month old in a non-childproofed home could potentially destroy the place in minutes) I was proud that for the most part I could leave her to her own devices. She was entertaining herself (and all of the grownups) and not being a nuisance.
The thing that surprised me happened late in the party. I was standing in the kitchen chatting with grownups while Zoe wrestled with the doggie on the floor near us. I gently extracted her when the dog showed signs of displeasure, and the gentleman I was talking with said, “Boy, she’s not afraid of anything, is she?” “Nope,” I responded with pride. And he shook his head, and said, “Even the things she should be…” And here he lost me.
Zoe is almost 20 months old. Of course she needs to develop a little bit of caution, about heights and traffic and strange dogs, but I cannot agree that she should fear any of those things. Fear is not a useful emotion, and I just love the fact that she has none. She will approach anyone and greet them happily and openly, and I admire that. Because she is so open and endearing she wins friends and fans everywhere she goes. As a reformed shy person, I can attest to the fact that life is way more fun when you dive into it than when you hide.
I am so happy in my own life that I have begun to DARE to do the things I want to do, but it has taken 37 years of struggle and personal growth to get here. I finally feel confident about myself, my career, my social network. If my daughter can be in this great a place in less time I am all for it. What a wonderful, fearless girl she is. Long may that last.