Mar 14, 2009

"But, Mommy, I HAVE to Talk!"

Ok, I love my kids. I really do. But my 3 year old is a morning person and, worse, an extrovert. She's not a true morning person - i.e., she's not one of these kids who's up and demanding attention at 5:30 a.m. - but once she's awake, look out. The mouth starts running and doesn't stop. Ever seen that "Help I'm talking and I can't shut up!" t-shirt? That's my 3 year old.

In contrast, when I worked at the law firm, I got up at 5:45 every morning and got all corporated-up, read the paper, and drove the 30 miles to Springfield, getting there about 8:30 (work started at 9). My boss knew not to talk to me unless absolutely necessary before 10. Oh, he made plenty fun of me - he being a true morning person - but if he wanted a well-thought out and rational response, he knew to wait until a couple of cups of caffeine hit the bloodstream. That's the kind of night person I am.

Now, I know (man, do I know) that being a morning person and being an extrovert will be very helpful to her through the years. In fact, I'd venture to say that being an extrovert will take someone farther than natural intelligence. It is, however, a volatile combination in the mornings - the introverted, night person parent vs. the extroverted, perky morning person 3 year old.

Even if you take morning out of the mix, it is difficult to parent a child who is the opposite temperment. I suspect it may be even harder for extroverted parents with introverted children but, yowee kazowee, this introverted parent sure struggles with her extroverted child. I worry that I'm dampening her natural high spirits by asking her to "Just. Stop. Talking!" (to which she once answered "but, Mommy, I have to talk!") or that I'm not meeting her socialization needs adequately. I worry that, given my prediliction for inner (vs. outer) conversation, I can't accurately judge what is an appropriately average amount of spoken conversation. I remind myself that my job is to be her mother, not her playmate, and at 3 1/2 she's old enough to be expected to entertain herself a good chunk of time. Even though I haul her to music, dance, preschool, and occasional playdates - all of which involve a fair-to-excellent amount of socializing with her peers, I worry.

I had really hoped that once her sister was old enough to interact with her, she would lighten up on her need to be "entertained" by me. It is starting to work a little that way - but there's still the jealousy that gets in the way. We still hear a lot of "She smiled at me!" (this is a grave affront in my 3 year old's world) and "Evie's scaring me!" (when the baby is merely attempting to "talk" to her). It absolutely infuriates me that she can't see her sister wants to be her friend - both for Evie's sake and my own.

I have not gone all Bunny Foo Foo (or, Jade, is that Bunny Fu Fu? ;-) ) on her head. But, man, sometimes I sure want to!

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OpenID jerseytjej said...

Girl...I got one of them...Michaela will wake up and talk the sleep out of your eyes...She hits the floor refreshed and ready to talk and it takes everyfiberofmybeing to keep from telling her to holl tyst (hole tist) which means shut up in Swedish...Being a role model is a bitch...

3:01 PM  
Anonymous RD said...

As my wife saysto our children, "I am not your cruise director. Go entertain yourself."

4:40 AM  

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