Introvert, Extrovert, Jabbermouth

August 2013 118 small

Can you see that he’s even talking to the GOATS???

A couple of weeks ago, we had quite a discussion here about introverts and extroverts. Mostly introverts, because you know, the blogosphere is a haven for introverts.  Everybody who ever felt socially inept, unpopular and never fit in has found here a community of our own kind.

I don’t exactly fit in to the neat, tidy categories, which has always made me a bit uncomfortable with them. But one of my commenters, the lovely Michelle of Endless Strength, clarified that introverts aren’t necessarily shy. They can function in company, it’s just that it doesn’t energize them–it drains them. They need to recharge afterward.

Well, yesterday morning I took Nicholas to the grocery store. Mindful of another recent blog conversation, I left the radio off and decided to take the time to focus on this child who, candidly, is by far the most difficult of them (so far). He never shuts up, and he turns everything into a battle, and thus our interactions all too frequently consist of me shutting him down or forcing him to comply with instructions. I wanted this trip to be time to bond instead.

So when he launched his usual epistle of questions that make no sense and cannot be answered in human or angelic tongues, I took a deep breath and problem solved them to an answer anyway. Or I asked him to answer them himself, because I think this is how he processes his world–via Q&A.

When Nicholas talks (and talks, and talks), I almost always get this tight, anxious feeling in my chest, this seizing up of my intellect and a crying need for silence. But yesterday I made the colossal effort required to keep my brain moving and my heart open, and I talked to him. All the way to the grocery store. All the way around the grocery store. All the way home from the grocery store.  I’m pretty sure I answered something on the order of two hundred fifty questions in that time, and not one of them yes or no.

(My dad once said of Nicholas: “You could just let him talk, but the problem is, he expects an answer!”)

I keep using this shot, but it so perfectly encapsulates his character!

I keep using this shot, but it so perfectly encapsulates his character!

It was a good trip, and I was grateful for it. But two hours after we got home, the boy was still talking. Still asking questions. Still expecting answers. I short-circuited. “Nicholas!” I cried. “You haven’t stopped talking for SIX HOURS! I need a break! Just stop talking!”

(That might have been a slight exaggeration, but he was talking to Alex when he wasn’t talking to me, so it probably wasn’t that  far off.)

He paused then, as if his little brain was processing.

And in that blessed moment of quiet, for the first time I recognized Michelle’s definition of an introvert. I had put the effort in to interact with him, but afterward I needed a rest!

This also explains why I have such a difficult time writing when he’s around. He punctuates the entire day with words, and  as a mother knows, you can’t just block out your child’s voice. He’s your priority, and your brain is wired so that any vocalization of your child has direct access to the “attention” center in your brain. My concentration snaps the instant his voice registers.

Have you ever had that experience where you are just about to drop off to sleep, and the baby wakes up? It’s torture. That’s how writing with Nicholas around is. Every time I almost get a thought formed, there he goes again, and my eloquent thought  goes: Poof!

This has been the insight. I’ve identified the problem now: a need for recovery following intense interaction. Now the question is, how on earth do I get him to cooperate?

(Stay tuned. Friday’s post is going to be a collection of everything Nicholas says this week. Well. Not everything. But the most noteworthy things.)

9 thoughts on “Introvert, Extrovert, Jabbermouth

  1. Ha ha! I completely understand. My lil Z, though only 3, is already talking non stop but he doesnt really want answers at this point and is only looking to talk. He asks the questions and answers them too so its all cool for me. Nonetheless, there is no a moment of quiet around the house. I can’t wait for your Friday post where you list all his questions. That is bound to be fun. 🙂 🙂 I once met an older woman at the park who saw me scrunching my face up at all of Z’s talk and she came up to me and told me to enjoy the questions and talk cause once they hit the teens it will be a battle to even get them to talk to you.Lol!

  2. Yes!! Lisbeth processes out loud and so talks and talks ~ and wants you to acknowledge that you heard her. With everyone home for the summer I had to insist on 20-30 minutes of quiet while the littles napped ~ so I could recharge a bit in anticipation of the dinner/bath/bed marathon.

  3. My daughter talked all the time when she was little. If we didn’t listen she talked to her stuffed animals and dolls. She totally changed though at some point and is a self-proclaimed introvert who is also quite shy in social situations.

  4. Danielle

    Nicholas reminds me so much of Tessa based on your blogs. I think of them as having similar spots in our families so I get fascinated when you post about him. What role does birth order play in them being who they are…??? Today Tessa began as a peer mentor ub the ECSE language delay classroom. Perhaps Nicholas would have been another good addition to the room 🙂

    • We tried that when he was 3, but they didn’t want him, and their process was so long and ponderous that we wouldn’t have been able to have a backup preschool in line, so I just decided to forget it. I’m glad it worked out for you guys! I liked the idea of him doing that.

  5. Kristal Bell

    Hi Kate, I had to respond because believe it or not my husband had a similar experience with ME in our first year of courting! I am a significant extrovert. I have always found that I must process problems by discussing them with others. This often means that I will talk about the subject for much longer than someone else needs to for their own resolution. I might even have to speak with multiple people about it. But, once I have “gathered my data” I feel I can adequately deal with the problem. Rodney is an introvert. He kept asking me why I needed to say things out loud so often. For example, If I was having a stomach ache, I would list off the possible culprits in terms of what I ate and say do you think that could be it? Have you ever heard of someone being allergic to this? Have you ever had the problem? It truly used to drive him nuts. Now he knows that sometimes he just needs to listen and I have learned to see his facial queues for when has had enough.

    Unfortunately, a child will not see these queues or be able to analyze what they are doing, so I believe you will have incessant questions for many years to come. I think having him answer some of his own questions is a really good idea because honestly for me, I just need to hear my thoughts out loud to address them well. If he is the same, maybe he will be able to answer his own questions by verbalizing the question and the answer as well. Thanks for the thought provoking post. It is fun thinking about what my poor mom had to go through when I was a kid! 😉

  6. It is true that we introverts are not necessarily shy. And yes, our extrovert children can be exhausting!! I used to hide in the bathroom when I needed a break!! lol

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