Wednesday, April 03, 2013

My mama told me when I was young we are all born superstars.

When I was a kid, my dad used to make me go talk to strangers.

I know - opposite of what everyone else was being told, right? I mean, he was there, and he wasn't all, "Hey, go see if some man in an unmarked van has candy!"

It was more like he'd send me over to the desk at a hotel to ask where the restaurant was. Or whatever. Just to try to make me more comfortable talking to strangers.

I hated it. My younger brother would always step in for me.

Now, although I don't go out of my way to do so, I'm fine talking to people I don't know. Like, I don't shy away from an information desk or asking strangers for directions or something.

But what having kids has made me realize is that people are pretty much born with their personalities.

Look at these little humans: India is always all, oh, hey there! Hi! And Jordan is perpetually so busy creating his own little world.

Jordan, he hangs back in a crowd of strangers, sits on the edge sucking his thumb, not jumping in until he's comfortable.

Sometimes he doesn't talk at all in a group of new kids. He finds some trucks or a book or something that interests him and sits there absorbed, like there aren't 15 children running in circles screeching and playing.

I have to resist the urge to push him into the fray, to say, "Go play!"

But I don't. It wouldn't work, and it's not who he is.

And he is so me in this way. The bulk of humanity is not of great interest to him, and a large crowd of strangers is overwhelming. He picks his people. His true people are few and far between, but you can see how intensely they spark each other when they're together.

India, on the other hand, arrives and she's all, "Hey! I'm here! So great to see you, whoever you are! Yippee!"

This is Nick. Whenever we are in a social situation where we know almost nobody, I hold on to his arm, stand slightly behind him. Which, practically speaking, given our size difference, makes me invisible.

I'm all, "So many strangers! Yikes!"

Whereas he's just like, "New people to talk to! This is great!"

And then he'll just start talking to some random person about, I don't know, anything. There he is, striking up a conversation on the weather or dominoes or foreign policy or ball point pens.

Seriously. Whatever. He just starts talking.

Sometimes he talks too much, and I want to pinch him. Sometimes I do.

So here we all are, in a social sandbox. Some of us are mentally scooping wood chips with a backhoe, and some of us are poised to catch someone's eye all, "Hello the people!"


  1. Fascinating! Your kiddos are adorable and it's wonderful how yours and Nick's personalities complement one another. You're totally not invisible at parties, especially while wearing the 1960's dress from Paris or your leopard print coat :)

    While I appreciate Jordan's personality and preference to build his own world (and generally wish him happiness in all endeavors. Except when he's not minding his Mama. You get the idea) a photographer, it must be said that India's disposition makes for a much better photograph. What a sweet smiley face she has!

    1. Aww, you are sweet sweet! I am fine when I know people. It's when I don't know anyone that I try to fade into the background.

      I take many more pics of India for precisely that reason. He's either actively shying away or making a weird face, whereas she just beams!

  2. So so true. My daughter is who she is and has been since she popped out of my womb. While I'm totally good with this (even though I do occasionally want to push too), it has taken my hubby much longer to accept that you can't change her.

    1. I do have to regularly remind myself. It's such a challenge - fostering their personalities, not tamping down spirit, but also disciplining, teaching manners and good behavior and values.

  3. The problem with making someone who doesn't want to talk to strangers do so, is that their reluctance will be picked up on by the stranger, who will then respond stiffly/coldly, and then there's this big cycle of shyness rejection and ohmyg*dwheresthexanax?

    I think you can guess what kind of person I am. I'm really glad for your kids, that you understand them so well.

    1. You know, if I weren't like Jordan, I wouldn't get it, I'm quite sure. The people I'm typically most comfortable with and closest to are like me, too.

  4. My husband and I are the same way. I'm actually very good with new people (always have been, I used to love it) but I don't ENJOY it, I'd prefer to just be home or with actual friends. My husband loves loves LOVES chatting up everyone, strangers or friends. He asks a MILLION questions (which I hate, because I hate answering them) and is just happy as a pig in slop.

    It's so funny to me to think that this fetus is going to come out all finished and a whole person and with her own ideas about stuff like that. It's kind of nice to know that I don't have as much influence over that as I might have thought before. Less pressure. :)


Tell me about it.