The reason that Elly gets all gobsmacked is that she never seems to remember that she treats the children of strangers with more kindness and patience than she can muster for her own. There's going to be a sequence about four years from now that has Elly take Connie's stepdaughter Gayle under her wing; the interesting thing about that arc is that she's a lot more understanding and willing to talk to a friend's child than she is her own. Then again, Elly doesn't think that Gayle is trying to destroy her life; that means that when Gayle says something odd, the impatient loon who thinks that everyone is trying to shove her face into the mud and laugh at her pain is in abeyance.
What this means is that the children at story time think that Elly is a great person because they're not close enough to her to be regarded as a threat to her. Were they to become more of a factor, they'd start to see the real Elly: a paranoid idiot who's convinced that what looks like stupidity and clinginess is an attempt to enslave her.