Now she's into ordering food for herself

When G was a toddler I worried about him going to school because he was pretty shy; my mommy worries convinced me he'd sit in the corner, too shy to play with friends. As we left his Meet the Teacher Night for his first-ever school year he told me in the parking lot that he didn't want to smile for his picture because he felt shy. But then a 180 occurred and now I worry about his over-confidence with his teachers and his over-willingness to speak up in class. Sharp change from his pre-school years.

Little Missy was not shy before going to school. One day we were sitting outside Cheddar's while waiting for a table on an especially busy day when I realized a one-and-a-half year old Little Missy had wandered from the spot I'd last seen her. Just as the panic started creeping in I heard some people saying, "Well, hello there!" I looked to my right to see a group of twenty-somethings smiling and talking to my daughter, who was standing mute in front of them while grinning and swaying from side-to-side. But this daughter is the one who I've had to convince it's ok to order your own ice cream from the nice people at Dairy Queen, they always smile and are happy to take your money.

All this exposition to bring us to Baby Chickadee, who I cannot recollect ever being too shy, and whose confidence in her place in the world is solid and growing. No 180s in shyness level from the time pre-school life to now. (Granted, we're only three months in.) Mostly this means she tries to have conversations with adults without my prompting, and every time she does so I'm surprised. Stiiiilll I'm working with G and Little Missy to stand without fidgeting, look the adult in his/her eye and speak up. But Baby Chickadee? That's all natural for her.

So at school when we bring lunch for brother and sister she's asking the school secretary (without full use of her 'r's), "Hey, where's your fish?" And it takes a minute for anyone to respond because no one is expecting a little thing who can't see over the counter to talk with such presence.

Now she's into ordering food for herself. (And I'd like to say up front: contrary to what you glean from reading these stories, we do not eat out all the time. Just once a week. Seriously.)

This ordering for herself is fine, say at places like Playa Azul in Augusta, places where they truly enjoy children and think they're cute. But at other restaurants the servers are never rude, they are just always surprised by a teeny person ordering for herself, and ordering for herself out of turn. ALWAYS out of turn. So when the server is looking at Little Missy for her order a little three-year-old voice loudly pipes in with a mispronounced, "Chicken shthrips, pwease!" Baby Chickadee used to bury her head in my shoulder with a combination of smiles and slight embarrassment and pride after ordering for herself (out of turn!), but now she just sits in her chair and looks at the surprised server with a calm look of, "Yep, that's my order."

Last week we were at Arby's when I noticed their side door was open. G tried to close it for me, to no avail, and came back with a declaration of "It's broken"; after Hubby investigated he found the door was propped open on purpose. Baby Chickadee didn't hear the part about the door-propping being intentional, so she marched her teeny body up to the counter--where no one was standing as there weren't any customers--and hollered (again, without full use of her "r"s), "Why is yo' door bwoken? … [No response since no customer was there.] … HEY, why is yo' door bwoken?!" After the second time we reined in our little inquisitor and pulled her to the table with us.

As long as I'm always with her when she's talking to adults, I'm fine with it, missing 'r's and all. Truth be told, I'm looking for ways to use it to my advantage. .

Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.