Thursday, 23 April 2015

My Sonshine, the introvert

Sonshine is extremely introverted, but don't confused him as being shy. He's not shy. He has no qualms stepping into a room full of strangers nor speaking up in class whenever he has to. Yet he's severely introverted. 

Introvert comes from Latin intro-, "inward," and vertere, "turning." It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone. (Quote)

Shy: nervous or timid in the company of other people. (Credit: google)

Sonshine typically turns inward more than outward. He does not share his thoughts readily. In fact, he guards his mind like a hawk as if it is some kind of treasure chest. He refuses to let but a selected few into his mind. Sometimes, he even keeps me out. 
When asked, he would usually keep people at bay by giving answers they want to hear or simply say 'I don't want to tell you'. Or the quickest way, as he had figured out is to say 'I don't know' even when he is quite an expert in the said topic. (That frustrates my husband and I to no end!) It is then very hard to accept his initial response because one never knows if he is telling the truth. Sometimes he is but I doubt it, he would change his answer to satisfy me. By then, I don't know which is his true answer. Yes, it can be pretty confusing conversing with him. Sometimes, I even have to assure him that it ok to say negative things like 'I don't like the rice' or 'I didn't enjoy the movie' etc. It can be challenging and exhausting sieving out his feelings and thoughts. One needs to spend an incredible amount of time to understand him. Even then, his mother, who spends and is spending his lifetime with him, sometimes thinks she doesn't truly know him.
When in class or social settings, when someone says something erroneous, he wouldn't point out the mistake but will make a mental note in his head.  While most children will correct the person on the spot, not for Sonshine. He would have twinkle in his eyes and a little smirk on his face. But that's as far as he would go.  Sometimes he would secretly come and tell me, like hours or days later, about the mistake.  Sometimes he just keeps it to himself.

He is also a typical loner. He is alone but not lonely. I feel sad for him but he is fine with it. In fact, I suspect he wants it to be this way. I used to worry about him until I noticed that when the social setting is of his interest, he would readily join in with his friends and play his heart out with them. But again, he is selective in his choices. And I also realised, the people he loves and treasures most is us, his family. He seems to be more than happy being with and having us so much so that he really doesn't need anyone else to make him any happier.
While most children would want to get out of the house, Sonshine is always more than happy to stay home. I would find him engrossed in his own activities  building his Lego township, drawing up complicated game plans or maps, reading, researching the bus and street directories etc. I can leave him be for hours and often have to be the one to disrupt his quiet time. It is quite a chore to get him out of the house. The whole family would be waiting for him outside the house, screaming at him to stop his activities and hurry out. When we are out, he would whine or asked us when we can go home. This irritates me alot and sometimes I would threatened that I would throw him out of the car!  
Years ago, I didn't know better. I was beyond frustrated and very worried. I was even convinced he had autism. In his toddler days, he did not respond to people and appeared that he was unaware that people were interacting with him. But when I demand that he pays them an answer, he would instantly sprout out his responses even before we could repeat the questions. That showed me that he heard what was being asked but he chose to ignore. This still shows up today but in another form; he 'ignores' by replying 'I don't know'. Even as a toddler, he was unwilling to share what was on his mind. He rarely pointed or shared with us what he saw. Most toddlers, like my doll, would scream and point out excitedly whenever they see something interesting. Not Sonshine, yet you can tell he was quietly studying his environment with all his senses. But because pointing was part of the milestone, I worried. But when I asked him to tell me where an object like a cat or a bus is, he would nonchalantly point it out to me almost as if to tell me to stop asking him ridiculous questions. LOL.
Even at preschool years, he kept to himself. When we are out with our friends over a meal, his entire body would turn away from the table. While the other kids are goofing about with each other, he would be sitting there, eyes studying the environment.  Again, it worried me. I thought it must be autism.  Only months later, did I understand why he acted that way. He didn't tell me, I had to observed. At that time he was very keen and passionate about buildings, its designs, the number of stories they have, the shop units etc. He also liked to regurgitate the buildings he saw in his drawings and even add in his own designs. He built his Lego drawing inspirations from the buildings he saw whenever we are out. Then I realised, why he appeared so 'withdrawn' whenever we are out, he was too busy studying the buildings, shops, roads, buses, cars etc.
I spent those years crying my heart out, going from one therapists to another and even got him checked. I remember several therapists telling me that they didn't want to see me or rather him, because he was obviously ok. But I was still unconvinced as I needed an explanation for his quirkiness. Only much later on, when I read up on introverts, then it all clicked. He wasn't delayed in his development, he was merely turning inward. And although he didn't talk much to his peers, he was socially acute. In fact, too socially acute! He later told me he does not want to talk in class because 'teacher said cannot talk'. =_=  He would constantly be on his toes, kept his eyes and ears alert and obeyed his teachers instructions to the T.
Today, I am thankful he is slowly opening himself up though not as much as his peers, but surely. He no longer turns his body away during meal times and would attempt to strike conversations with his friends. If he wants to, he can play with his classmates (but only after school because he wants to be at his best behaviour in school). He is less interested in the environment now but more in his social settings. I am also thankful that he knows when to play his cards - at least in school he doesn't tell his teachers 'I don't know', LOL! Although last year, I did suspect he purposely gave the wrong answers on his papers. Only scoldings after scoldings did he change this year. Sigh.
Reading up on introverts also helped me to understand him better. It explains why he acts a certain way. Every single thing he did in his preschool years and does now, points to his introvert nature. I worry less now. Instead, I take a step back and respect that he needs his alone time and space. I try not to pry his mind open against his will but I also try to get him to express himself. I discovered that as long as I take a step back, he would take a step forward and readily shares what is on his mind.
Dear Sonshine, mummy wants you to know that it is ok to be an introvert. It took me so so long and buckets of tears just to unravel the mystery in you and still solving many other unknowns. But I still love you in any shape and form. I hope as you grow older, you will also find pleasure in sharing your thoughts with others. You are not here alone on this earth, I hope you will discover that there is enjoyment in sharing your time and space with others at times. I pray that God will position kingdom friends around you, friends whom you are comfortable in sharing your mind and heart with. You know we absolutely adore and love you just the same.

Love always & forever, your Mummy.

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