Monday, 23 September 2013

I is for Introverts

When Sonshine was a toddler, one could instantly distinguish him from the rest of the children. The pack would be at one corner playing with each other, while he would be at the other end, happily playing on his own. This was a common scene and even till now.
I was worried sick to say the least! I thought, convinced, he has some developmental issues. To cut the long story short, he's fine say the professionals. Still, I couldn't reconcile why he is always alone and he can't seem to strike up a conversation with other kids. He has very little friends and he can come home without speaking a word to anyone! At home, he's a different person. He talks to us alot- many a times we have to ask him to keep quiet. It is as if he has a public personality and private persona.
The odd thing to me was I knew he's not shy. Because he would readily join in a game with others- if it interests him that much. Otherwise, he has no qualms stepping away from the party, reside into his corner and just play on his own. It is not as if he doesn't play with anyone- he does but extremely selective and dependable on several factors. 1-It must be an activity he likes, 2- the smaller the group the better. In big groups, he fades into the background, 3-he must be familiar with the playmates although I have seen him play with complete strangers, I guess point 1 supersedes point 3 during those rare times!
When it comes to social gatherings, he  always appears to be bored during meal times where we would normally congregate and chit chat with our friends. He finds eating a chore and deems chatting as boring. He'd literally turn his body away from the group and just observe his environment. He also needs a longer time to process his thoughts which means he takes a longer time to answer questions. The more you hurry him, press him for an answer, the more chaotic his mind becomes and he will never be able to give you the answer he truly feels.
He dislikes, hates even, to be the center of attention. He refused to allow me to celebrate his birthday in school because, I suspect, he finds the attention overwhelming. He reminds me every year not to hold a huge party for him. When he was very young, he cried when the entire party sang to him the birthday song! He cried when he won a game and everyone in the class clapped for him. He just doesn't like to have the spotlight shine on him. BUT, at home, he is delighted when we put him on the pedestal.
He is also not expressive and will keep his thoughts to himself. He may share it with us but NEVER to others. This is why over the years, none of the teachers discover that his learning ability is faster than the average. None of the teachers know how much he knows because he will never vocalised it. Many a times, he prefers to express himself through drawing and imaginative play- which he does alot during his free time.
He listens more than he talks- outside of the house that is. The teachers often tell me, he is very attentive in class albeit quiet. He would often tell me he doesn't like to talk in class because he wants to listen to the teachers! How to counter-argue with that?! BUT at home, he is the other way around!
These 2 years has been a struggle for me. I battled with worrying thoughts that there was something severely wrong with him. Thinking that I got to help him be what the society says is 'normal' (being vocal and participative socially) I pushed, demanded, scolded, threatened, bribed, used harsh words on him just to get him out of the shell. Until, I realised, this is a typical behaviour of introverts.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to limit him with the label but now that I know he is displaying introvert personality- I understand him better and have stop pushing him out of his comfort zone. I recall I used to be an introvert too. I abhor it when my auntie and friends try to drag me out of my shell. The more I am pushed, the more I would retreat. The worst thing to do to introverts is to force them out of their comfort zone. You must be wondering since I was an introvert (I say 'was' because I have evolved into an extrovert now- me thinks), why couldn't I identify that in my son? I blame it on those articles online, signs of this, signs of that...until I was obsessed with finding what exactly he has that I forgot that he could simply just be an introvert. How silly.

If you are curious or like to read more, this article (different from the one I shared on my facebook) list down the characteristics of an introvert. I was nodding my head through and through this article! Suddenly, everything I couldn't figure out about my son (for years) makes sense! What an eye opener for me!

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