A few weeks ago my 10 year old daughter, Bean, and I dropped off my 12 year old, Scorch, at one of his activities. After he and his chatty self got out of the car, blessed silence took over the car until Bean pipped up from the backseat.
“Why don’t you ever talk to me?”
My heart broke; instantaneously, into a million different pieces.
Because that is what mom-guilt looks like. Your kids question you once and, immediately, you start cataloging all the ways you failed them (or at least that is what happens in my world).
When I questioned Bean to see what she meant, she told me now that Scorch sits in the front seat next to me, I talk more to him. And then she mentioned that Scorch and I always have so much to talk about, but she doesn’t.
Which….is all true.
When Scorch gets in the car, he doesn’t stop talking. The boy shares everything about his day, his classes, his friends, sports, gossip, YouTube videos, memes and new songs he’s heard. If he thinks it, it immediately gets shared. One quick, “How was your day?” and he’s off and running. He seeks us out, texts me during the day and seems to generally enjoy the Hub’s and my company 90% of the time. Scorch is my mini-me in a lot of ways – chatting about everything under the sun is something we both just fall into doing.
The Bean? She’s her father’s child. She’s a quiet, introverted, amazing kid who likes to talk on her terms when she’s ready at the place of her choosing. And I adore her. From the top of her curly-hair’d head to the tips of her Converse sneakers, I think she’s astounding and I wouldn’t change her for the world. But she’s not approachable and she’s not a chatterbox like her brother. Parenting her is very, very different from parenting her older brother.
Here’s a quick story about my girl. This past summer, there was a local festival happening in town. I wanted to go so badly. The Hubs was out of town and Scorch was at a friends, so it was just the Bean and I. It was a gorgeous summer day – blue skies and sunshine – and I couldn’t think of anything more fun to do then to walk around this art fest, seeing friends, and chit chatting as we looked at the gorgeous creations.
The Bean? Not so much.
After asking her repeatedly to go with me- telling her that it would be the perfect way to spend a Sunday – she looked at me said, “nope, that’s YOUR idea of the perfect day. My idea is to stay home, make slime, watch a TV show and Facetime with friends in my PJs.”
Ummmm…ok. That rocked me on my heels because she was right. My idea of a great day and her idea were very, very different – but that doesn’t mean her ideas are wrong.
Since the day the Bean was born, she’s known her own mind and I have no doubt she’ll move mountains one day. But it does make talking when she’s not in the mood a tad difficult. Here’s how our post-school car rides usually go:
Me: Hey Bean, how was your day?
Me: Tell me something fun you did today!
Me: How was <insert friend’s name here/test/special event>?
Thankfully Bean brought this up as we were on the way to a few hours of one-on-one time. So, as we played mini-golf and grabbed ice cream, we revisited this topic. I told her I was sorry she felt left out now that Scorch was sitting up front with me and that I’d work really hard on making sure she was part of our conversation too. I also pointed out how her brother talks about everything while she is a little more reluctant to share about her day. Then I told her that should could always talk to me – but if she wasn’t feeling heard, we needed to fix that.
We both agreed that chatting right after school isn’t her thing – so a hug, quick greeting and chit chat about the music we should listen to on the way home was all she wanted to talk about as she decompressed. When we get home wasn’t the best time either since we usually launched right into dinner / homework mode. However, right before bed WAS a great time.
So that’s what we’ve been doing. My girl and I might not have the best car ride conversations and she may never be my chatterbox – but we have found our time to connect each night. Is it perfect? For right now, yes. Will it work when she’s 12? 15? 17? Who the heck knows, but I hope by making sure she knows she’s a priority now she’ll remember that as she gets older.
Tell me your best tips for parenting your introverts? How do you make sure they feel heard and loved, especially when their siblings can be a tad overpowering?