Friday, November 12, 2010

Social divide

One of the biggest difference between me and my oldest son is the fact that he is extremely extroverted and I am most definitely an introvert. He jumps into social settings with both feet and is rarely afraid to strike up conversations with strangers, while I remain on the sidelines riddled with anxiety whenever confronted with new people. The good part in all of this is that he is teaching me to come out of my shell a little, and I have been working on opening up to people. It is hard not to when he garners a reaction from strangers wherever we go and has been doing so since he was a baby. The bad part is that he wishes to spend his days surrounded by others while I prefer the comfort of solitude. I have made efforts to accommodate his needs while on the home front by involving him in several social activities, but it never seems to be enough. He regularly questions me as to why we don't have more play dates and why other children do not come home with us from school. How do I answer him honestly? That I have a hard time approaching parents about such things? That I have learned to make small talk in some situations, but taking it to the next level fills me with fear and anxiety? That is not an easy thing to explain to a four year old who has no qualms about walking up to a complete stranger, introducing himself and sharing his life story. He is extremely popular with the neighborhood kids and will most likely continue to enjoy popularity his entire life. I have no idea what that feels like and honestly have no desire. Social temperament is something we are born with and it does not change. I inherited mine from my father, who fully understands and appreciates the need to escape from overwhelming crowds. My husband shares a similar mindset, and we often spent our pre-children weekends relaxing at home. We quickly learned that that lifestyle would not fly with our son. I remember coming home from our first Christmas and watching him sit in the middle of the family room floor, surrounded by toys, crying. He had been swept up in the chaos of the holiday and did not want it to end. So where do we go from here? I hope that we are able to reach some middle ground and perhaps learn from each other about how the other side of the social spectrum thrives. As for my youngest, he seems to be in the middle. Not nearly the social butterfly but nevertheless eager to impress a crowd. His sensitive soul with surely make him a good listener, someone who the girls will probably turn to when they are eager to get a date with big brother.

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