My daughter, Sophie, and I pulled up at the entrance to the park on a warm afternoon. I put the car in park and glanced around to see what awaited us at the playground. Staring momentarily at the masses of kids and families happily playing together, I immediately thought to myself, “It’s so crowded! Maybe we should come back later or find another park.”
Like a burst of energy from the back seat of my SUV, Sophie gleefully shouted, “Look at all the kids! I bet I’ll make so many new friends!” And on that note, she hoped out of the car and ran off to play.
I often describe that scenario when I’m asked about my daughter’s personality and I how I mesh with it. It perfectly sums up our personalities: I am an introvert, and my daughter is an extrovert.
I like being an introvert . From a very young age, I craved solitude and found so much joy finding ways to entertain myself with books, playing school, reading, and the like. As a kid I would entertaining myself for hours in my bedroom and I never saw anything wrong with that.
I still love being an introvert. I could go days at home, writing, and reading books, without talking to anyone except my dogs and cats. Dogs and cats, by the way, are great companions for introverts because they don’t talk back and they love you regardless. In fact, this post pretty much sums me up.
Bryan is also an introvert. Our perfect date is dinner and then spending hours in a bookstore. And we’re not browsing books together, mind you! Like me, Bryan is perfectly content going days at home reading and just being quiet. In fact, he needs it even more than me.
Sophie, on the other hand, is an extrovert. She is constantly talking, singing and expressing her every thought at the moment she has it. She is the one who will call out answers and interrupt conversations, and has to be reminded to wait her turn to talk (even among the three of us). When she is solving a problem or making a realization, she will talk out the entire thought-process and will get frustrated if she’s cut off before she finishes. She will also strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere, even complete strangers.
She is very social and craves interaction with others, whether it’s other kids or me. We could be out with people all day, arrive home, and Sophie will want to go to the park or play with more friends (Bryan and I would sooner hide in a cave).
Sophie expresses her emotions openly. When Sophie is sad or angry, she cries or yells. She’s not doing it to be immature; her instinct is simply to express emotion outwardly. This is a tough one, especially if teachers, or example, are introverts. They don’t understand the outward display of emotion and often mistake it for whining, crying wolf, or being a “cry baby.” I have to constantly remind myself of this because my instinct is too work out my emotions internally first. I’ll be honest when I say it’s been hard to keep myself from saying, “Stop crying!” (I still sometimes do it – I’m not perfect.)
I know Sophie’s extroverted qualities will serve her amazingly well as she grows. But this is where an introvert parent raising an extrovert is tough. I often find myself worn out by her need for interaction, with me or with other people. At those time, I will utilize our mutual love of movies to help us through.
I’m still not sure how two introverts created an extrovert. Only time will tell how far on the extrovert pendulum Sophie will swing. But in the meantime, we’re all learning new skills together. Sophie is learning that she needs to play by herself at times and give mommy a break, while I’m embracing the fact that Sophie NEEDS that playtime interaction with me. And so I will play school or tea party with her even if it’s not what I innately want to be doing. The bottom line is understanding is key, and we are all better people because of our differences.