shhhhhhhh…. Don’t tell Benedict, but I convinced the ever-insightful Tami Clayton to come out of her writing cave for a minute to pop in and share some words of wisdom with us. If you dig this post, you’ll find more over at her blog, where she continuously brings the awesome. Take it away, Tami!
What I’ve Learned From My Extroverted Kids
I have a friend/co-worker who finds it HILARIOUS that I, a self-proclaimed introvert, have not one, but TWO extroverted kids. She finds many opportunities to point this out, especially when I share my parenting woes tales with her.
I’ve said before that I believe the universe brings people into our lives to teach us what we need to learn when we need to learn it. And those precious lessons will be thrown in our faces presented to us over and over again until said lesson is learned. I truly believe this and have the battle scars to prove it.
As my proof, I will share with you the lessons I’ve gleaned so far from parenting two lively, extroverted kids:
1. If you have a need, make it known. This is not an easy one for me because I am a
stubbornly and ridiculously fairly independent person. If I have a need, then I think it’s up to me to deal with it and make it happen. Or not. No one to blame but myself if the need doesn’t get met. My kids see it differently. Not only do they let me know their needs (don’t get me wrong – this is mostly good), but also the grocery store checker, the gas station attendant, the desk clerk at the doctor’s office, the librarian and anyone else who will listen.
My lesson? It’s o.k. to ask others for help.
2. Share your thoughts with others. As is the nature of many introverts (which I wrote more about here), most of my thoughts tend to remain in my head. And while I’ve become more comfortable sharing them over the years, trust me when I say you really don’t want to hear about most of them. They’re really not all that interesting and some can be downright disturbing. I have a calm, cool image to keep up and letting you all in the temple of my demented mind may shatter that image.
My kids, on the other hand, like to tell you about EVERY RANDOM THOUGHT EVERY MOMENT THEY HAVE ONE. Example: “Hey, Mom, do you know where my shoes are? I can’t find them. I don’t really like it when the cats play with my stuff. Can you make them stop? Today my friend said this really funny thing so then I began thinking about this other thing which reminded me of this one time we did that one thing that was so cool. I’m hungry. What can I have for a snack? Can my friend come over? Can we do that cool thing again, Mom? Mom? Why are your eyes looking so weird?”
My lesson? There are gems inside that noggin’ to be shared with others. How will anyone get to know you if you don’t put them out there?
3. Jump first, think later. My kids are a special breed of extrovert – the impulsive extrovert. They live life by the seat of their pants and think about the rationale or the consequences of their choices… well, not very often. That’s what I’m for right now. I am temporarily functioning as the frontal lobes of their developing brains and try to impart the wisdom of thinking it through first. Impulsivity and spontaneity have their rightful places in life – don’t get me wrong. But occasionally they need to be tempered by some good ol’ fashioned think-before-you-act skills.
My lesson? Stop over analyzing everything. Let go. Take a chance once in a while and jump first, think later. Just because.
4. Put yourself out there. In general, I’m a private person. Having a blog is in direct opposition to this aspect of myself, something that has pushed me, little by little, out of my comfort zone in the last few months. Even so, I don’t even come close to the boldness of my kids. They have their shy moments but then they get over it pretty quickly. I spend way too much time worrying about saying or doing just the right thing. I fret over sounding or being too little or too much of just about everything deemed undesirable. My kids? Not so much.
My lesson? The world won’t stop spinning because you didn’t say or do something perfectly. Have a little more faith in yourself and your talents.
5. Get down with your bold self. Because they are still young, my kids don’t really think in terms of extrovert vs. introvert. They just are who they are, no excuses or labels or rationales. They don’t hold themselves back from something because of “shoulds” like I do as an adult. On the surface, this lesson may seem to be more about the differences between a kid’s and an adult’s view on the world, but I think it goes a bit deeper than that. I think (or at least hope) this is a function of their personalities that will endure over time and carry them into adulthood.
My lesson? Be who you are and abandon as many “should’s” as you can. And be bold about it while you’re at it.
I’m sure there are many more lessons I’ve forgotten to list and many more I’m sure they will diligently teach me. Parenting is as much about sharing my hard-earned wisdom with them as it is about them opening my eyes to see the world through theirs.
What lessons have you learned from others who seem to have a completely opposite type of personality from yourself? What lessons have you learned from your (or other’s) kids that surprised you?