Somewhere in my late 20’s or early 30’s I had this revelation– I was an introvert. That didn’t really make sense to me, and everyone around me balked when I told them my realization. In fact, they still do. I’ve taken a lot of personality tests, and they all agree that my personality type is ISFJ (though my F & T are really close, so they flip back and forth). But the reason people balk is summed up in this paragraph introduction from the 16 personalities test results for an ISFJ- “Naturally social, an odd quality for Introverts…”. Yes. My introverted personality is muddled and concealed by the fact that I AM naturally social. However, I recharge when I am alone.
Since becoming cognizant of that side of my personality, I have learned to allow myself the space to be alone. I’ve learned to say no. My husband has learned to go to parties with his Latin friends, where they will undoubtedly listen to loud music, dance, and hyper-socialize, without me. In fact, he’s at one right now. I’m sitting on the couch where I just finished Skyping my best friend, and after writing you all I will shut down and binge watch some Fixer Upper on Netflix before going to bed at an embarrassing hour. I’ve learned to give myself a break, and to realize that I’m not my best when I don’t take time to be alone and recharge. How to do that as a working mommy is a whole other blog entry, and as I haven’t figured that out yet, I’ll leave it to later. But regardless, I know what I need when I get “like that” is to be alone.
We’ve had a busy weekend. On Thursday night we went out to dinner with friends. On Friday we had a teacher Thanksgiving that lasted several hours. Yesterday we had a birthday party that took up most of our afternoon and early evening. Today we went to our school this morning to play soccer with some friends, and then this afternoon we went to another, smaller but albeit still 30 some-odd people, Thanksgiving celebration. We got surprised with Sunday and Monday off this week as Egypt is having parliamentary elections, so we busied ourselves to help the babies not feel stuck in the house. We’ve stuck to nap time and bedtime schedules, but other than that, we’ve had fun outside of the house.
This afternoon at the gathering, my son totally and completely lost it. Yes, he was in typical toddler melt-down mode– throwing himself on the floor, etc, but this was is so incredibly uncharacteristic of my sweet, friendly, happy-anywhere boy. As we got in the car, sighing from a lot of exhaustion and a little embarrassment, our son began happily chattering away in the backseat. What??! Where was the little monster we had just dealt with for the last 3 hours?? I looked at my husband, and out flowed a simple, yet poignant question, “Do you think Joseph is introverted maybe? Like, maybe he just hit his limit with people and needs to be in the house away from the social stimuli?” We began thinking about our son. Naturally a people person, he’s always been a smiler, little flirt, and snuggler. But he’s also really content to be alone. In the house, we often find him off reading a book by himself. At the daycare, while Kenzie will go join the other kids upon arrival, he is content to sit in the toddler-sized swing by himself. On the weekends, K grabs her backpack, walks to the door, and says, “Shoes. Bye bye.” She wants to go. But not him. He’s perfectly happy if we spend the whole day in the house, reading 50 million books, looking at his “fish” (I need to blog about our fake fish, lol), taking things apart to see how they work, pressing every button on the washing machine, sitting with mama and watching “Gi-Guh” (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), and just spending time with his family.
This may not seem like the most huge of all revelations, but for me, it was a big deal. To me, it whispered- PAY ATTENTION. Watch for the signs that he is peopled-out. Plan home-time in addition to go-time. Spend quality time with him because he recharges with “his people”. Likewise, I need to pay attention to my sweet girl. She’s a g0-girl. Though skeptical of new adults, once she warms up, she becomes the life of the party. She shows off her shoes and hair bows, runs from room to room, bouncing around, and maintains that mischievous twinkle while giving every adult in the room the stink eye.
When my little guy grows up, I’m not going to tell him that I think he’s an introvert (or not). I don’t want to influence the way he feels about people, or social settings, or where he thinks he derives his energy. But I do want to be aware of how he is responding in these social settings. I don’t think all typical toddler behavior can be avoided. But I DO hope that the next time around, when he starts to exhibit these same signs, that I can be caring, compassionate, and say “no” to going out in order to avoid the toddler tantrum, but more importantly, so that my boy feels safe, cared for, and listened to.