Quietly booming

Well, the Blog Awards were on Thursday night and I didn’t win, but it’s all right because Fionnuala did, with her lovely blog from Germany, and I’m happy that the judges went for a catch-all parenting/lifestyle blog not so unlike my own (though clearly superior), because in previous years I always felt that they wanted something very touristy or “diaspora-y” for the Diaspora category, which I couldn’t possibly give them.

Anyway, head over to Three Sons Later and give her some love, not least because she was kind enough to give me a shout-out when she won, and I’m pretty sure that has something to do with the way WordPress has just informed me that my “stats are booming!” (Booming for me is more of a gentle nudge. But appreciated nonetheless.)

While I’m at it, you should check out The Airing Cupboard and Office Mum and also Department of Speculation because I’m giving them my very own Awards For Being Excellent At This and Robbed and also Very Supportive Commenters and Lovely People. Not that they need my puny referrals, but for what it’s worth.

We’ve been talking about introverts lately. I finally picked up a copy of Quiet, by Susan Cain, which had been recommended by a friend ages ago, and though I’m not far into it yet, it’s fascinating and illuminating reading.

Labels are something that I’m wary of giving my children, because I don’t want them to become self-fulfilling prophecies, to create self-imposed limits – but sometimes it’s important to feel that you have a tribe, and that you’re not just a lone outlier. (Oh, the irony, if you’re talking about introverts.) And it’s been clear to me for a long time that Mabel is an introvert. Dash is an extrovert, that’s not hard to divine; and B and I are both on the introvert side of the scale too, but fairly social ones.

Mabel, I think, is more than that. She’s shy as well, but it was the way even as a toddler she’d need to decompress after a social event with a good old solo imaginary-play session at the dollhouse that really clued me in. She couldn’t just head to bed, no matter how late we’d been out – she had to spend a while playing first. These days she gives me the evil eye if I’m in the same room, and likes to keep the TV on so that I can’t hear the voices she’s doing, but the compulsion to play is just the same.

Yesterday we went to a start-of-year potluck picnic for Dash’s school. Dash was in his element, happily buzzing around with his classmates, old and new, and B and I were chatting quietly to a few parents and teachers. I was happy that Mabel had headed into the fray of children, rather than hanging out of me the whole time as she had done last year. But she wasn’t really enjoying herself, and after a reasonable length of time we ducked out. She was tired and tetchy and I was on the alert for a meltdown, so nothing untoward happened. But in the car on the way home I started telling them about the book I was reading.

A short description of the characteristics of introverts and extroverts had Dash and Mabel instantly placing themselves, and wanting to know more. When we got home, Mabel wanted me to read bits of the book to her. We talked a bit about how our society favours extroverts and tries to make everyone think they should behave in the most outgoing way possible, but that it’s perfectly good and excellent and fruitful to have a more quiet, withdrawn, thoughtful personality.

I think, just as much as finding out we could say Dash was dyslexic was a good thing, letting Mabel define herself as an introvert will be helpful too.

And it’s so much more socially acceptable than saying you just don’t like people very much.


8 thoughts on “Quietly booming

  1. Muuka

    I love this! You have such grown up conversations with your kids. I read and think wow, you’re a great mum. I’m sure getting her to know all this will stand to her in the future because she’ll know why she has to as you put it, decompress after wild social interactions – I can sooo relate. I’m raising an extrovert and as a more introverty person, I find it hard going and so different.

    1. Maud Post author

      Aw, thank you! The rest of us do find D a little wearing sometimes with his incessant need for company and interaction. But that’s why we send him to school. 🙂

  2. Angela O'Donovan

    How lovely you can these open chats with Mabel.

    I’m up late as I worked late. DH gone to bed, so in the kitchen, on my own, lovely… and dipping into the various blogs you mentioned and eating cream crackers with butter – yum. Needing to unwind to get even near relaxed has its pluses.

    Your blog is the best

  3. Fionnuala Zinnecker

    Ah, thanks!
    I think you are right to let Mabel know that she may be an introvert. I have the same thing with my eldest and over the last few years have been speaking to him now and again about how some people like peace and quiet and their own company and how others have a greater need for attention from others. He’s taken it on well and I think talking it out has helped me to understand him too, even though I am quite like him. I suppose being an adult I have learned to fit in with others. I must check out that book.

  4. Niamh

    I’m in the middle of that book too, I suspect having first heard about it from the same person as you, through whom I discovered your blog!
    It’s fascinating stuff, even for someone who very rarely reads non-fiction. I’m at the nature v nurture stage at the moment and while it’s fairly common sense that the two are inextricably linked its really interesting trying to figure out whereabouts in the introvert-extrovert spectrum people fall.

    1. Maud Post author

      I haven’t got to that bit yet. It’s my book to read in the car line waiting for D to get out of school; I should really promote it to an indoor book.
      (And if we have a friend in common, I’d say you’re right.)

  5. dept of speculation

    Heh @ the last line. The post-event play sessions our one retreat to suddenly make some sense.

    When my fella was at school, his Ma was doing the usual circuit of teachers at the annual parent/teacher meeting. They couldn’t praise him highly enough until it came to his introvert ways. “He’s very quiet”, they would exclaim, as if this was somehow non-conformist. His Ma perfected her reply of “And what of it?” I love her for it.

    And thanks for generously including me among such esteemed names of the blogiverse. I think I’ll take a selfie with this post 🙂


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