I’m an introvert. (Surprise!) As an adult, I’m comfortable with it, but as a child I got a lot of grief for it; mainly because a lot of the adults in my life thought it was a wrong way to be. So I resolved that if I ever had a child, she would be welcome to spend all the time she wants reading quietly in her room, or sitting by herself under a tree. She would have all the peace and quiet she could desire.
Imagine my surprise when I gave birth to a child who wants to be around people, all the time. A child who yells “I want to play with somebody!” At least three times per day. A child who never stops wanting company.
This isn’t to say I’m unhappy with the situation. In fact, often, it’s downright cute. At the drive-through, she introduces herself to the cashier. “Hi! My name is Nadia. It’s spelled N-A-D-I-A. I’m four and a half. You’re wearing red, and red is my favorite color, because it’s beautiful.”
But then, she sometimes drags me into it, and it’s less cute. “This is my mommy,” she will tell some random man walking past our house. “Her name is Dana. What’s your name? Mommy, say hi to the man.” I grit my teeth and wave and smile, hoping that’s the end of it.It never is.
“My mommy and me are going for a walk.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” says random man.
“I have rocks. See? And I’m going to pick flowers, but not the ones in that yard, because it will make the lady mad. Instead I’m gonna pick the yellow flowers. The dandelions.”
“Oh then,” says random man, now looking uncomfortable.
Then it repeats with the next person we see.
Anytime she approaches a group of children, she immediately befriends everybody. I know this, because she says it. “Let’s be friends.” Just like that. Then they’re friends. That kind of behavior would have been unthinkable to me at that age. But she just does it, like it’s nothing.
One day, she wanted to play with her friend next door, but she wasn’t home. Instead of smiling with relief, as I would have done, she cried. Actual tears of sadness, because she really wanted to spend time with her friend.
But, never one to be defeated, she wiped away her tears and soldiered on. “Mommy, let’s go look for someone else to play with.”
I figured I’d humor her, and we’d walk around the block, and she’d see that nobody was out, and we’d go back home.
No such luck. It’s true that nobody was outside, but that did not deter Nadia. Nope. Instead, she demanded that I try knocking on doors, asking if there were any kids for her to play with.
“I’m not doing that,” I said, because I’m sane.
“But why not?”
“Do I really need to explain this? We can’t just go door to door asking for friends.”
“Because…it’s weird. People will think we’re weird.”
“No they won’t, they’ll be my friends.”
Sigh. There’s no way to argue against that without saying something cruel, so I claimed to feel sick and said we had to go home.
I’m glad that she likes people. I really am. But a part of me wonders if it’s normal for her to be so outgoing. Shouldn’t she want alone time, at least sometimes? Doesn’t she ever get tired of talking to people? Doesn’t she need a break?
The answer, apparently, is no. But that’s ok. Being an extrovert is an advantage in life, and I’m glad she won’t have my struggles. And someday, when she’s the extremely popular president, she will build me an underground bunker, where I can go to hide, anytime I like.
Oh my gosh. This was my life. A single parent from the moment I gave birth, I somehow raised a son who is now 35, and has always been an unsilence-able extrovert. You’re right, it does have its joys, but it can be draining to the point of giving yourself an inviolable time out. Be strong.
Yeah, I’m learning to suck it up and socialize with….well, everyone she sees, haha.