Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An Introvert Raising An Extrovert

"What's YOUR name?"

The little girl turns away and buries her face in her dad's chest. Eleanor, oblivious to what this means, simply steps closer and repeats her question.

I cringe inwardly and try to persuade her away. She keeps chatting with the other girl's dad. I feel like going over and apologising, but I'm not sure what for.

She's an extrovert; I'm an introvert. She is confident; I am shy. She is unflappable; I am easily embarrassed.

It's a tricky parenting situation.



She strikes up conversations everywhere we go and it makes me flinch. Partly because I would never be that bold. I tend to wait to be spoken to, for fear of inconveniencing the other person. I assume they don't want to be spoken to unless proved otherwise. Eleanor assumes everyone is up for a chat, and will not accept evidence to the contrary.

We're both a bit socially awkward in our own ways. Me, because I'm too worried about overstepping boundaries. Her because she doesn't even realise they're there. She doesn't understand why other children won't talk to her. She doesn't get what shy is.

Mostly I'm proud of her extroversion. When she was little I tried really hard to talk to other people at playgroups, partly to make friends but mostly so she could see me socialising and not feel nervous about it herself. More than anything, I wanted her to be confident. I got what I wanted.

But as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. The problem with being an introvert with an extroverted child is that you get pushed out of your comfort zone a lot. You have to negotiate the social niceties your child can't. You need to assess who is happy to talk and who wants to be left alone, and try to communicate that to a person who can't understand why anyone is different to her. You end up having conversations with total strangers, a situation which leaves you tongue-tied. When you want to shrink away and go unnoticed, your child is busy drawing attention to the two of you.

It's not all bad though. She's showing me that, actually, more people than you'd expect are happy to chat. That talking to them isn't imposing on them, it isn't a massive inconvenience. She's teaching me that I don't have to bend over backwards to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. People are more tolerant, more friendly, than I thought.

I love my little extrovert. I know that her friendly, confident nature will open doors for her. I'm glad she'll probably never struggle with shyness and will always get stuck in in a new situation. Despite the cringes I'm incredibly proud of her.

That said, I hope her brother has a little bit more reserve!!

2 comments:

  1. Bagl isn't as extrovert but he is definitely more social than I was at that age, and will say hello to people on the street. I love it, but yes, sometimes it's a bit much when I'm in the mood for hiding!

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    1. It's great to see them so confident but yes, a bit toe-curling too! Perhaps it's a generational thing, we're moving further away from the era of 'children should be seen and not heard' but maybe that attitude was still lingering around when we were kids perhaps?

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