Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Child Is an Extrovert (and I'm Not)

The farm animals could only be fed lettuce:
we didn't bring any. R wanted to try, so
she just asked for some from other visitors.
We arrived in Singapore today (at 2 in the morning). It's good to be home! This trip went surprisingly well. R slept for large portions of both legs (we transferred in Tokyo again), and when she was awake she was mostly cheerful and quiet. It was still awful though.

R amused herself on the longer of the two flights by making friends with the baby in the row ahead of us. They had long conversations in jerba-jer (what I call R's "speech"), with R gently patting his arm and gesturing meaningfully. R did most of the "talking", since she is totally extroverted and completely at ease in most social situations.

This had the side benefit of enabling R to borrow his books and toys: she has learned how to request stuff from strangers (usually toys or food). She does this by approaching them, catching their eye, and then pointing at the desired object while saying "lala la? lala la?" Sometimes she will sidle up and lightly touch it while asking if they don't understand her. It works at least 90% of the time (unless her target is under 8, in which case they aren't necessarily so keen on sharing).

I am constantly amazed at this aspect of R's personality. Both B and I are introverts (in the sense that social interaction tires us and we enjoy solitary activities). In addition, B dislikes most people (he is very particular). I have a lot of problems with self-confidence, and tend to feel that everyone hates me. This makes social interactions pretty anxiety-provoking. R, on the other hand, loves everybody, and seems to be completely assured that they are going to love her too (and give her their candy). She thrives on meeting new people (especially if they are other children: more people to play with!). 

I always thought that I would have a shy, sensitive, retiring child. I imagined that I would be completely supportive of their timidity and need for tender support in the noisy, overwhelming world, giving them the total understanding for their struggles that always eluded me as a child. (I really liked this vision of myself, and to be perfectly honest sometimes I'm a little sad it was never needed.) 

Instead, I have the kind of kid who has figured out how win friends and influence people at 16 months. Maybe she can give me lessons?


  1. I'm an extrovert and my child is not. Weird?

    1. Most people are extroverts I think, so it makes sense that most introverts won't have introverted parents. Introverts tend to be really good at amusing themselves (I used to spend hours playing by myself as a kid, while my extroverted sister couldn't spend more than 20 minutes without bugging my parents for something to do), so this might work out really well for you!