Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quiet Girl with Flower

This afternoon I saw a small little girl my son's age standing in her front yard silently staring at the goings-on around her while holding a pink flower. I found her adorable and sweet. My own children were barreling up and down the sidewalk on toddler toys much too small for them, careening this way and that, blowing soap bubbles in faces and generally wreaking havoc on their surroundings.

I was overwhelmed in that moment by their chaos. I remarked to the mother of the quiet girl, "What is it like to have a child who stands quietly while holding a flower?"

She visibly cringed, then smiled, and said, "Sometimes it's not always so easy." She then explained that she unsuccessfully tries to encourage her sweet daughter to engage in the play around her, which apparently doesn't work.

I wanted to cry. The pain of pulling my foot out of my mouth was too great. I looked in the direction of the flower-holder and saw that she was still serenely smiling and looking through the bushes for another flower. My own children were wild bulls on small plastic trains released from their cages.

I apologized to the mother of this sweet girl for the dumb thing I said. I was once the little brown-haired girl silently holding a flower, the one most people thought was deaf/mute for years (ask my mother). I am now a tall brown-haired girl whose preference is still to stand on the sidelines holding a pretty, soft thing to anchor me in the middle of the swirl of extroverts. It's how we make sense of this world.

I walked to my car swallowing the lump in my throat for making another mother feel sad. I fed my son ice cream and corn dogs for dinner, then sat on the couch with him and read him long books of tales about giants and mermaids. He is not on the sidelines of life; neither is my daughter.

Among my many hopes for them in life is that they one day fall in love with and marry introverts, if for no other reason so they can understand their mother.

Sweet brown-haired mother of an introverted daughter: I am so sorry. As much as I am okay in this life, she will be also.


Emma said...

Forgive yourself on this one. My son is Autistic and severely developmetally delayed. He cannot speak, play, etc. If you were just walking past him you might not "know" unless he was making one of his noises of flapping his hands. There have been times when comments from others lead to awkward moments. But it is no one's "fault" I hesitate to speak for this mother but I daresay she isn't angry. This kind of thing just happens. WHen you have a child who falls outside of the typical range , those differences will need to be explained from time to time. It is unrealistic to expect otherwise. You identified with this girl and said something that reflected that.

Anonymous said...

Being an introvert in this crazy world is hard. neither of my kids are introverted at all and it makes for an interesting life at our house. Don't be so hard on yourself.

kn said...

I was the extreme introvert as a child and in many ways I still am. Quinn is an odd mix. When comfortable he's as boisterous as any young boy, but until very recently he would not play in groups of children and I was the mom who would try to coax him to play with other children rather than sit and talk to the adults.

God bless the introverts, who see so much that others pass by. Where would we be without them?

Bridget said...

Never did I understand introverts until I married one. Best thing I ever did.

Carrie said...

Just a thought, but why do you have to be "so sorry" for pointing out that she's quiet? I don't see anything that makes extroverts any better than introverts. It's kind of like one time someone said, "Oh I didn't know you'd be so short" to me and Charles Spell got mad/defensive on my behalf. It was just a description of me--I *am* short. And it's only if you think something's wrong with being short--and there's nothing wrong with it--that it becomes a nasty thing to say. I've always liked being an introvert pretty much and I hope Nora has at least some introverted tendencies.

Also, I've always considered you social.

Semi-feral Mama said...

I dated an introvert who masked as an extrovert for 11 years. Then I married him. Flash forward 12 more years and I finally read some parenting book that explained introverts versus extroverts in a way that I finally got it. Twenty something years later and I kind of get it.