Girls develop faster than boys. Remember whispering to your best friend about your crush while watching him practice loogies with his friends? Or towering over him in fifth grade?

Penny is developing faster than Lucas. At the age of 5 Lucas dressed himself, brushed his own teeth and was relieved of emotional outbursts and tantrums. Nearing the age of 5 Penny has been dressing herself since she was 3, brushing her own teeth for over a year and is overwhelmed by emotions leading to outbursts and tantrums.

She asks a million questions. She needs to understand the who, the what, the where, the when and the how. She is self-aware and self-conscious, already. She will dance and shout and let it all out, at home. She is shy. She will not insert herself into a group or situation, she will wait. And this is where I come in; I observe and I freak out. My daughter who should be “free-spirited” at this age is becoming shy and therefore must be lacking in self-confidence.

Described by her teacher as “quietly confident” I decide to let go of my preconceptions and see my child. She doesn’t insert herself into a group because she doesn’t care to. If it appears to me that she is left out it is because she chooses not to be included.

My daughter impresses me. On the verge of becoming 5 she is handling the constant onslaught of emotions and impulses as best as she can. She is sorting, categorizing and prioritizing; some she can dismiss, some require tears, some require a tantrum and some require Mommy to see her, hear her and comfort her. Some just need attention.