She’ll pick up her school papers and take herself off to her room to work. He has never willingly gone to his room. In fact, when she goes to her room, he follows her and only stops when his nose comes within inches of her closed door.
He walks around the house while brushing his teeth. When he’s in the bathroom, he’s singing. It doesn’t occur to her to sing in the bathroom.
He likes to know what the plan is, what we are going to have for lunch and dinner, and whether we will be having company. She wants to be left to wing-it, she has to be reminded to eat, and she’s cool with not having anyone over for days at a time.
When he’s working on a project, he’ll stop in the middle to brainstorm a new project. She doesn’t think about what’s next, because she’s so deeply immersed in what she’s doing now.
He’s the first to make us laugh with a joke or a funny voice. She’s the first to come up with a new painting technique.
When he reads, he spins a football in his hands, at the same time. When she reads, she follows along with her finger and wrinkles her brow.
When he eats, he exclaims – sometimes loudly – about how it tastes or feels or smells. When she eats, she takes her time and comments quietly.
When she first wakes, she sits on the couch and eases in, preferring dim lights, if any. When he first wakes, he turns on all the lights, checks the temperature and asks me how I slept.
One of Each
I am blessed to have an introverted child and an extroverted child.
They are blessed that I know which is an extrovert and which is an introvert.
This knowledge is what keeps us from killing each other.
Knowing that Will is an extrovert helps me see that he likes stimulation in the form of spicy food, lots of lights, loud noises and a plan with breaks for blowing off stink. If he had a choice, he’d leave the house and go somewhere – anywhere – every day, especially if it’s to try new food.
Knowing that Jenny is an introvert helps me remember that she likes things quiet – except when she’s listening to Taylor Swift. She prefers to stay home and eat home-cooked meals. She’d eat steamed chicken and buttery noodles every day if I let her. She likes to be left in charge of her own schedule.
I also know that I am an introvert.
Because I understand what makes us tick, I can better help us get along.
Except for on the days when I can’t.
When Two Worlds Collide
One of those days, I retreated to the shower to let them figure it out. When I escaped, Jenny was running off to her bedroom and Will had an innocent look on his face. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “What? What’d I do now?”
Sometimes he forgets that his exuberance collides with her quiet side.
It’s not his fault, just as it isn’t her fault, but it does make for trying mornings in this little house.
They both know which one is an introvert and which is an extrovert. They know the defining characteristics of both types.
In another shower-inspired epiphany, I came up with characters they could identify with, that would help them more clearly see their personalities.
Will is Tigger.
Jenny is Marcel the Shell.
When I ran into the living room, still dripping from the shower, I said, “You guys! I figured it out! Will is Tigger and Jenny is Marcel!”
They laughed and completely agreed. Both personalities are likable, and both have the capacity to drive you crazy, depending on whether you are introverted or extroverted.
Appreciating Both Types
Jenny admits that her favorite days are when Will goes skiing – without us.
Will admits that his favorite days are when he does everything – with us.
On those ski days when Jen and I stay home, enjoy the quiet, and work on our projects, she’ll look up at the clock at 11 a.m. and ask, “When is Will going to be home?”
She misses him.
The last time Will went skiing without us, Jen and I were knee deep in fleece, a hot glue gun, sequins and ribbon when she said, “You know, mom, if we didn’t live with Will, we’d never get out of the house. It’s a good thing we have him around.”
When Will comes running in the door after a ski day away, he hugs us both and tells us how much he missed us.
Within 30 minutes, they’ll be driving each other nuts again.
So while running errands yesterday with Tigger in the front seat and Marcel in the back, Tigger glanced at the time and said, “Mom, grandpa just got on his plane to head back.”
I was still breathing a long sigh of relief after a busy week spent cooking, eating, playing, socializing and hanging with extended family.
It was a blast!
We wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Jenny and I are glad last week is over.
Will says, “Mom, when can we go out to lunch? When are we going to catch minnows?”
I said, “Hang on one minute there, Tigger. Your Extrovert is running head long into my Introvert. Could you please just let me catch my breath before we make the next plan?”
Will said, “Yes, I s’pose.”
In the rear view mirror, I see Jenny looking out the window, lip-syncing to the song on the radio. It’d be easy to assume she hadn’t been listening to the conversation. Then Jenny said in her quiet Marcel voice, “Can we please stay home all day tomorrow?”
Will said, “Yes, I s’pose.”
He waits a couple minutes and says, “But mom, we are going to catch minnows one day, right?”
I said, “I s’pose.”
When I proofread this aloud to the kids, Will said, “Do you promise we’ll go catch minnows one day?”