I am an introvert.
And I ended up with an extroverted child.
I don’t know how this happened.
I never expected to have an extrovert, because PH and I are both total introverts.
We get exhausted by stimulation and need time alone to recharge. We process social interactions slowly and find interacting with humans to be really difficult and often unpleasant. Introverts are the universal energy donors of the universe. Extroverts extract energy from the environment, but the environment leeches energy from us. So we hide from it.
We were both sedate, easy-to-handle children. I, as an only child, hung out in my room much of the day either reading or concocting elaborate imaginary worlds starring myself as some kind of animal. PH spend his childhood creating the perfect fantasy baseball team by examining the statistics on his baseball cards.
If you had asked me how I pictured my future son I would have described a blond, round-faced boy with a serious expression who needed time to warm up in strange situations. When Owl was in the womb I even thought he was showing introverted characteristics.
Owl is not an introvert.
I have suspected it for a long time, but there is no longer any room for reasonable doubt. He loves new situations, loves doing new things, doesn’t care if his schedule is disrupted, remains cheerful so long as there is something new to stimulate him, and gets cranky if we hang around the house too much.
In a way, it makes him really easy. I can take him out in public without tantrums, and I’m not a slave to his schedule.
It does not mesh well with my needs.
The Farm Fairy, whose son is more of an ambivert (like his mother) noticed a difference when she was babysitting Owl the other day. While her own son was happy to sit and play if she left the room, my kid would follow her from room to room, demanding interactions.
It’s wearing me down.
It’s not that I don’t like interacting with him, because I do. He’s frigging hilarious, this kid. He makes me laugh so hard with all his clowning and he says and does the cutest things.
But I’m SO. TIRED.
He eats all of my energy, like the world’s cutest little vampire, except he drinks mana instead of blood. Oh, and milk. Mana and milk.
It’s difficult enough to be an introvert in the working world.
When hour after hour of interacting with humans is required of you, you get drained fast. I had ways of dealing with it. I spent an hour in front of the computer in the morning, or reading in the bath, or both, just gearing up for work. Then, at lunch (which was an hour long), I would hide in a corner with a book. When I got home I’d spend some time with PH and then go on the internet and/or read and/or take another bath.
Not any more!
From 4 or 5 in the morning onward, Owl is on me. I am dragged out of bed by him, feed him breakfast, dress him, bring him with me on the dog walk, put him in the car, take him to daycare… and then I work. I work 9 hour days and I don’t get a lunch break.
In vet clinics, there really is no such thing as lunch break. It’s a medical environment. No one who will willingly say “yeah, that sick cat has to wait for me to finish reading this chapter” lasts long in the field. My last boss insisted on people taking lunch breaks, but then when days got too busy to make such a thing possible, you just didn’t eat at all. My new boss takes a more practical tack. She pays us for the whole day, with no lunch break, but IF there’s time, we are welcome to eat and take a break – paid. It works. But it means that I can snatch a few minutes to eat or run next door to buy a brownie, but I can’t hide in the corner and read for an hour. I can’t even check Facebook.
PH doesn’t have it any better. Since I need the car to take Owl to and from Daycare, PH has to transit to work. That means that in order to make it to work for 8 AM, he has to be out of the house at 6:45 AM. He doesn’t return to the house until 6:15 PM. So he’s gone for 11 and a half hours of the day just to work an 8 hour day.
On the bright side, he has time on the bus/train/ferry to read. On the downside, he is surrounded by humans and I tend to get texts from him saying things like this:
The person next to me is playing “Angels We Have Heard On High” on the recorder over and over again… VERY BADLY.
Then PH and I feed Owl, bathe him and put him to bed. By then it’s 9 at night and we’re wiped. We can spend time with each other, or time alone, and since we both want to spend time with each other but NEED time alone we take compromises where he watches TV and I blog. Occasionally one of us just orders the other into bed.
We’re so exhausted.
One thing I’ll say about having an extrovert: it gets you out of the house. Now, on weekends, we actively seek out activities to entertain Owl, because keeping him home all day is a recipe for misery.
Suddenly, extroverted locations like playgrounds, indoor play gyms, farmer’s markets, community events, and Canada Day on Granville Island are the most desirable thing to us, because they entertain Owl so we don’t have to.
When Owl is outside, or somewhere new, he is easy. He explores everything, chatters about everything, and is just… happy. He isn’t clinging or demanding milk or begging us to read Hippos Go Berserk for the umpteenth time. He’s just being cute and happy.
Yeah, extroverted locations are better for us introverts, nowadays.
So we’re taking Owl to Vegas, which is basically extrovertland.
We expect to find it very restful.