Oh my goodness - "I don't want to ruin him!" - you sound like a very loving, concerned and involved parent - how could that do anything but benefit a child?!
I have three small children ages 1, 2 & 5 years old. Since my anxiety/panic reared its ugly head in late childhood, I am probably hypersensitive like you with regards to watching my children, analyzing their behavior and so forth. It was worse with my first...once I had three and realized how completely different each child could be, I relaxed. Every child is so different with their own personalities. Also seeing other children at preschool has reinforced how wide the range is...odds are, your child's behavior falls right in line with the big bell curve of shyness and other personality traits for a normal 4-5 year old.
With that said, I have to be honest with myself when I know that I have a strong hereditary basis for my panic and 3 children - odds are that one or more of them with inherit some similar traits. The 2 year old is almost 3 and has raised so many "red flags" for me since he was born. But he's adorable and a handful and I'm not going to worry about
it unless I see it really affecting his little life. Right now, he seems happy, so I'm happy. One blessing of having dealt with this and having had parents who didn't respond for so long is that I will be right there to step in and help my child if a similar issue arises.
If you struggle with having to talk to other parents, why not arrange playdates at your own home with just the other child? I do it all the time - I just take the other child home from school and the drop him off at his/her house later. It gives my child playtime with a friend and helps her build friendships while I don't have to sit and try to strike up chatty conversation with another mom or worry about
having a panic attack in front of her.
We also go to the park a lot where my kids can play with other kids and I can sit on a bench and read or hang with the baby - if I get anxious or nervous, I pop up and "It's time to go home!". We also take lots of trips to the library and similar places. Your son can interact and see other children without you feeling the pressure of making conversation or interacting with other parents. I also started going to the preschool playground after school - it forces me to talk to other moms, but I'm glad to get to know the other children's parents and since we are outside and have my car close by, I can pop them in if I start to feel too uncomfy.
If your son is happy and not struggling, then try to go with the flow and not worry (I know, so much easier said than done!). We worriers project so much on ourselves and our children - we have to battle to stop that projection and let them develop how they will, for better or worse. If you are creating issues, most likely you are creating them for yourself and causing yourself worry...it probably is not affecting him. It's only affecting you!
HUGS - being a mom is tough...and being a mom with anxiety is even tougher! I'm right there with you :)
Panic Attacks (since age 10) & General Anxiety with a little OCD thrown in there
Biggest Challenge - Panic; Biggest Joy - my 3 cute kiddos (ages 1, 2 & 5)