When the Extrovert Joins the Family of Introverts

5 Feb

OK, more specifically when the extrovert has a MOM who is an introvert.

It might come as no surprise that I’m an introvert.  Or a big surprise, really, depending.  I fit 100% into the INFP. Down to the wire. This description is me.  I will never call your name out if I see you and you’re father away than my talking voice can grab you, I often ignore the phone, my house is as silent as a mouse when the kids are at school because I.hate.noise.  It’s a good day when I can bust through the grocery store without any surprise bumping into and I go to bed every night at the right time. 😉  There is no late night party’s going on here and the idea of going into a group of women who I don’t know very well is down right unacceptable.  (I tried bunco when I moved into the neighborhood…and mom’s night out with another set of neighbors. Lasted just a few times until I realized that is just not for me.  A dinner date with a neighbor I know well? Or want to know well? Bring it on.  Sitting around a table with 15 women that I don’t know? No thank you. I’m finally at that point in my life when I know it’s OK to pass.

Because I’m a writer by trade (not here. Here I can make all of the grammatical errors I want. Sometimes I do it on purpose. 😉 ) the introverted life is perfect for me.  I can sit secluded in my quiet house hammering out what needs to be said all while getting the quiet my brain needs to be happy.  If I’m feeling the need to be around people, I can grab my computer, grab my headphones and sit in a coffee shop with more introverts who are happily independent with their headphones on, too.  I get these people.

Dave is just like me, though his profession has him out meeting and selling and presenting so he’s good in front of a crowd, though he prefers the sidelines as well. Logan is 100% independent and has no problems with just wandering around at recess checking in here and there with his friends along the way. Miles isn’t nearly the introvert that Dave, Logan or I am, and he has more friends than I can count, but he falls a bit more introverted than extroverted…just barely.

So what happens when the newest member of your family is on the FAAAAAAAAR polar end of personality traits.  The most extroverted possible. I mean, HOLY EXTROVERT!

When you are preparing to bring your child home, there is a lot of talk about teaching your children about family.  My friend Grace taught me how she was teaching her little Sarah.  Big family – Little family.  Little family=immediate.  Big family=extended. The rest=no family.  We taught Cora who we could hug, kiss, love, talk to, hold hands with, etc…and more importantly, who we could not.

This is still a lesson we talk about today.  Her orphanage = all part of our big family. She can (and does!) love them all.  She can hug them and kiss them. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins….all good.  But at first when she came home, we kept the kissing to *just* our little family. Hugs could be for the grandparents, etc…but until she got it a little bit, no kissing.  Now, going on 10 months home, she TOTALLY gets it and can kiss away in her big family.

When we first got home, whenever someone walked by our house in our busy street, she thought it was fair game to approach.  And when there was little English, it was a little awkward.  So our rule was, no talking to everyone.  Only the people we know. Or the people who mom and dad talk to first.  “How come you said HI to that person, mom?!” was a frequent phrase when I had to say hello due to eye contact on the sidewalk.  It was a hard lesson to teach.  But, she got it and did really well with it.

And as we learned who was family, both big and little, and who was close friends that weren’t quite family, so rules differed, she started easily classifying everyone as they go.  But what we took as orphanage traits of not quite understanding the safe bubble of contacts was really quite more. Once she DID understand the safe bubble of people, it became apparent…this girl is an extrovert to the nth degree.

So when there is a mom who comes to pick up her kids at school and every day stands in the same spot, off to the side of the wall, hoping to grab her kiddos and head back to the car without any ruckus, I see my daughter standing much smaller than most of the kids in the school, but louder than most of them, too.  She’s calling out names of 3rd, 4th, 5th graders, teachers, staff, principal, parents, grandparents…she’s hugging kids as they leave, running back to say one last word to her teacher and inadvertently talking to another 3 or 4 teachers that she doesn’t even have. She plays with older kids at recess because she’s so outgoing, they adore her. One kid gives her gum *just* so she’ll include him in the high-five category of kids she knows.

I won’t lie — it stresses the heck out of me. Where Cora goes, eyes go.  And where I go, I prefer NO eyes to go. 🙂  We walk through the doctor’s office and everyone looks and smiles.  The front office of the school tells me stories about her outgoing self.  She says goodbye to complete strangers to me as we leave the school (volunteers in her room) and I smile and say goodbye quietly as she yells their names and fondly bids them farewell.

My happy quiet world is now suddenly full of people who Cora knows and wants to talk to and here I am, the happy introvert wondering how on earth I’m going to make it with this extrovert of all extroverts.  It’s certainly making me stretch, that’s for sure! And I won’t lie, I love her (very rare) shy moments when she grabs my hand and pretends for a moment that she’s shy as she hides behind my leg for 6 seconds while she gets used to her surroundings.  It’s familiar to me. But what I need to do is to thicken up this skin and get fitted for an extrovert costume. One with a face mask.


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