One of the books I’m reading is Quiet: The Power of Introverts. It’s a “speed read” so I only have a week to read it. Can I do it? Well, will everyone leave me alone, please? THANK YOU.
My children love me so much. They want to sit on me and tickle me and, inexplicably, dangle from my neck. “Please don’t dangle from my neck,” I say, “I am happy to hug you, but — arghhhh.” Why? Why do you want to destroy me? I FEED YOU.
Eli has been going through a phase, I think he is almost done it now, where every sentence starts with “Mommy?”
There is a sock in my drawer! And I have other socks. And Mommy?
I don’t mind if my socks match or don’t match, it’s OK with me because who cares! Right? And Mommy?
I’m hungry. Mommy?
I’m going to get a snack now.
Are you super irritated just reading that? Are you?
Well? Are you?
After the first I don’t know how many weeks I realized I didn’t have to answer every Mommy? because he would just keep talking. He just needed the two second beat — it could be silent, filled with my voice, or filled with raspberry jam.
Perhaps that’s why he’s moving out of the phase. I gritted my teeth and ignored the impulse to answer him.
I think if my kids could pee on me to mark their territory, they would. That’s what summer vacation is like. A constant dodging of metaphorical, territorial peeing.
“You had her all year!” Arlo says with his actions, not his words, “NOW SHE’S MINE.”
“Screw you, Bro,” Eli says, sometimes with his words AND his actions, “SHE LOVES ME THE MOST BECAUSE OF ALL THE MUFFINS SHE BOUGHT ME WHILE YOU WERE IN SCHOOL FOR THREE YEARS.”
So it goes. Siblings.
(Not every day. Some days — some moments within some days, even — are not like that.)
This morning, for example, they got up and were horrible to each other for the first hour and my heart sank because the days are sort of long when it’s hot and sunny and everyone is horrible. But then they went outside and raced some snails and that took, like, forty-five minutes, and by the end of it, they’d forgotten to be horrible.
Eli described Arlo as “his mean brother” at the park when they were playing a game with the park attendant girl, but that’s par for the course. During a discussion about the meaning of “trust” last night we determined that Arlo could trust Eli to save his life but not to lend him a nickel. I guess that’s pretty good for age 5 and 7. I hope so.
I have also started reading this book, and was for the first part not really having lights go on. I haven’t felt much pressure from the extroversion ideal, maybe, so I didn’t identify, although I could see how that’s out there for other professions.
Only when she started talking about sensitivity & high reactivity, I was put in mind of a conversation with St. Aardvark a very long time ago on my blog. At the time I was feeling overwhelmed and whining that I didn’t understand people not bothered by their own empathetic sense. He suggested that, like many skills or traits, empathy and altruism might naturally fall on a bell curve. That made good sense & I’ve been sort of exploring it since: thinking about where the low empathy/altruism folks are best adapted, whether you could look at psychopathology as a learning disability of organic etiology, how to communicate, what’s learned and what’s innate, etc.
Anyway. The thing that grabbed me in this book is the discussion of high and low sensitivity profiles (which may also fall on a bell curve, although they’re framing it as binary so it seems like possibly two clusters around extro- and intro- version) and how these correspond to empathy/altruism. It wouldn’t have been my instinct, that introverts tend towards empathy/altruism. I’ve never connected the two.
I would have thought about in terms of control: I think introverts tend toward depression/melancholy because we like to situate locus of control internally- ie: what could we have done differently? Watching the environment will be part of that, but not always empathy. However, perhaps even the more analytical, less sociable introverts who seem sort of confused by human signaling do tend to be aware they’re not able to read the room.
Anyway. Very interesting. I’m really curious about the bell curve here: are we looking at 2 types of people, or we’re just defining either side of a median?
My apologies for flooding your inbox with all these comments, but honestly your writing is just so refreshing and hilarious, it’s hard not to want to share! Especially because Libra does that too – “Mama? Mama!” preceeds nearly everything he says to me, and even appears in the middle of his sentences just as you’ve said, just a way to fill space, and it is – well, irritating! And yet I have to laugh because, well, the alternative is crying 😛 And because it’s just one of those little linguistic tics that I’m sure he’ll grow out of, and sometimes it can be a bit cute.
I’ve not read the book, but I’ve heard of it, and seen it widely recommended. I just don’t have the time to really sit down and read books; I read in stolen snatches these days, while they kids (or I) am in the loo or while they’re playing in their room and I have a moment to check my feed reader. I am definitely an introvert, though; even the best social interactions wear me out, and a whole day of full-contact parenting often leaves me wanting nothing more than a house to myself and a cup of hot cocoa and then maybe eventually my bed.
You must never apologize for so many comments. NEVER! I thank you so much for the compliment and for stopping long enough to say so.
I admit I read the book in bits and pieces..in the bathroom (where I never used to read, until it was the only place) and scraps before bed. I skipped a lot because I had to return it within 7 days! But there is definitely more than 7 days’ worth of reading in it. I enjoyed it a great deal.