The Introvert Playdate

Today I planned yet another introvert-unfriendly outing for my introverted self and my two introverted children.

We were supposed to meet a houseful of strangers (fellow UU homeschoolers; you don’t get much stranger than that. (Actually, that’s not true. There are a lot of people stranger than that. Like people who like processed cheese or people who use both feet to drive cars with automatic transmissions.)) for snacks and chatting this afternoon.

My son fell asleep about five minutes before we’d planned to leave.

I’ve been dragging this poor kid out at naptime for his whole life, so this time I lay my son on his little bed to let his nap run its course.

While he slept, I broke the news to my daughter that we might not be able to go to the playdate today. She’d been looking forward to it because it was going to be chock-full of girls. For some reason, all of our outings have consisted primarily of boys. As my daughter says, one or two boys is okay. But more than that are just too loud.

Her reply to the news surprised me.

“Well, Mom,” she said, “I’d rather just not go. I’m really enjoying this sticker book. And we’ve been meeting a lot of new people this week. It’s not good to meet too many new people too quickly.”

We ended up agreeing that if her brother woke up by 2:30, we’d still go, but if he slept past 2:30, we’d stay home. In the meantime, she and I would read silently, our very favorite way to pass the time.

He woke up at 2:23.

So, we got our rain jackets on, climbed into the car, and dodged minor flooding as we drove to our destination. As we walked into the house, we determined two things: 1) all attendees were female except for the golden retriever and my son, and 2) despite my daughter’s assertion to the contrary, seven little girls can be every bit as noisy as seven little boys.

The girls invited my daughter into the fold immediately while my son and I retired to the mom room to play on the floor with the toy trains while the grownups chatted above our heads. Periodically I would add something about Utah to the conversation, despite the fact that every time I say something about Utah, the conversation stops. Even as I open my mouth to speak, I say, “Stop! Don’t say anything about Utah!” But I worry it would be weirder if I just sat there in silence the whole time. Then I let myself talk and discover yet again that no, silence would not be weirder.

At any rate, I was somewhat relieved when my son grew tired of the trains and wanted to follow the trail of dress-up clothes upstairs to see what his sister and the other seven girls were doing.

We found my daughter on the floor with a dollhouse, talking to herself while placing a tiny and very odd looking cat-type creature into an equally tiny blender.

“Mom,” she said when she saw me, “I’ve not had any fun at all.”

The other girls stopped talking.

“Oh?” I asked. “Well, even if you feel that way, it’s not really polite to say so.”

“That’s okay,” one of the girls said, apparently prompting my daughter to reiterate her original statement.

“I’ve had no fun at all, Mom,” my daughter repeated.

“Well, maybe if you played with the other girls you’d have more fun?” I suggested.

Another girl addressed my daughter.

“We’ve invited you to play again and again, and you’re welcome to join us any time you want to. We’re playing a game where we’re humans who turn into mythical creatures.”

“Or you don’t have to be a mythical creature,” another girl corrected. “You could just be a very powerful human or something like that.”

My daughter, looked up at one speaker and then the other. Then she turned back to the dollhouse as the other girls resumed their noisy transformations into mythical creatures and powerful humans.

I think maybe I should re-think our plans for tomorrow.

4 comments

  1. Pingback: Introvert or Misanthrope? « Imperfect Happiness
  2. Melanie Meadors · September 9, 2011

    Being an introvert can sometimes be such a hard thing, because society teaches us that we “should” do certain things. And of course, when we do things that aren’t natural or aren’t sincere to us, it always feels weird/phony. Which makes me, anyway, wonder if the other person can tell I’m trying too hard, which makes me want to retreat… Ugh.

    My son has such a nice balance–he’s very quiet and thoughtful and imaginative when he is alone, but when he is with other people he’s very (a little too much…) outgoing and gung ho. Though we have the opposite problem–he gets TOO gung ho and that leads to his impoliteness!

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  3. Melanie Meadors · September 8, 2011

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/

    I shared this on facebook as “my instructions.” Yesterday when I found out I won an honorable mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future contest, I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved that I didn’t place higher. If I did, I’d have to go to a big noisy awards ceremony in LA, be in front of a huge crowd, and also I would get an opportunity to attend an exclusion writer’s workshop. Now, yes, these things would be great… But in a small workshop, I always feel weird because…well, I guess I’m kind of like your daughter! I actually felt a weight lift off. Not sure how I will handle it if I do win some day. I’ll be fine, but maybe even more people will think I’m weird…

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    • CJ · September 9, 2011

      First off, congratulations! I read a blog post kind of like this last night. A woman had been invited to speak at a conference, and she was torn as to whether to do it or not. Maybe you could make plans to attend the awards ceremony as a guest to start preparing yourself for when you place higher. Nice excuse for a trip to SoCal!

      I’ve seen that article in The Atlantic. I’ve always known I’m an introvert, but it was after reading that article that I started to embrace it. Of course, I still ignore my introversion-related needs every day because that’s how I’ve been trained and that’s what seems socially acceptable. My daughter’s introversion is a gift to me. I get to watch how I might have reacted as a child had I had the space to do so, and maybe she can help me learn how to care for myself a little better. In return, I can give her the gift of awareness of her own needs and the importance of respecting them even when she chooses to push herself a bit. I would like to help her learn how to express herself a little more politely in public, though. But that’s kind of secondary (albeit embarrassing for me as the mom of the impolite kid. *sigh*).

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