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On the Extrovert/Introvert Scale

For those of you who know the Myers-Brigg personality test, I'm an ENFP. E stands for Extrovert, as opposed to Introvert. It's about where you get your energy and what you need to feel refreshed, and it should not to be confused with outgoing versus shy. Though I am on the E side of the scale, I'm so close to the middle that I'm probably an X (the Myers-Brigg designation for when you are right in the middle).

Years and years agow, when I told my sister that I was an ENFP, she expressed surprise that I'm an E. I told her, "Just because you are WAY over on one side of the E on the scale does not mean that I'm slightly more of an extrovert than I am an introvert." She laughed, because it's true. She is extremely extroverted. (We are both very friendly, outgoing people.)

My daughter, the Pumpkin, is not only super outgoing but she is most definitely an extrovert. The extreme kind like my sister. I realize that I never shared a story about her that I'd always meant to, which I will do now. This story might show more of her outgoing personality than her extrovertedness, but it really is an example of both. Excuse me while I digress...

Last July, the Pumpkin had to have her blood taken to check for nut allergies. (I never wrote up the post about the outcome of that, either. I will get to it soon.) Thanks to good advice, I called ahead and made an appointment. This was my first time away from the Pookie, and I was going without Londo. I was still a bit out of it and totally forgot to repack my diaper back for the Pumpkin, including things to occupy her in a waiting room--but that was partly because we had an appointment. Unfortunately, even though we got there on time, there was a wait. In fact, the waiting room was just about full.

So there we are in the waiting room with nothing to entertain the 2 year old except a pen and piece of paper (which worked for all of 10 seconds). The Pumpkin started climbing in and out of her chair and running across the room. She was basically quiet and good, just needed to be up and moving, and I stayed with her. But even that got boring.

Then, she turned to a woman sitting in a chair. Having recently learned how to introduce herself, she said, "Hi! I'm Pumpkin*."

The woman had been watching her with a smile, so I didn't stop her from going up to the woman. The woman said hi back to her and told her her name. Then the Pumpkin showed her the squiggly lines picture she drew on the paper I had. They had a little exchange. Then, the Pumpkin was off again.

I looked around to gauge the room. There were a few people in watching my girl and smiling. A few had chuckled at the exchange with the woman. No one seemed annoyed.

The Pumpkin went up to another woman. Introduced herself and asked the woman's name. The woman replied and commented on her picture. The man next to her commented to me about how outgoing she was and how old was she. I answered, and the Pumpkin went to him and exchanged introductions.

I gave a general apology to the people around or the room or whoever in case we were disurbing anyone. A couple a few seats away spoke up and said that it wasn't bothering anyone, that she was being friendly. Now, everyone in the room is watching her, and she keeps going up to people and introducing herself. Someone else spoke up, saying that they didn't normally have entertainment in the waiting room, so it was a nice change.

She was as happy as I'd ever seen her, the center of attention and chatting it up with seemingly-nice strangers. It made it easier when I got called into the back. I apologized to everyone in advance for the screaming they were about to hear, and got words of encouragement back. When we left, with her sobbing into my shoulder as I carried her, we got sympathetic looks. But most importantly, the interaction she had prior to the bloodwork was good as a distraction and for her extrovertedness to get recharged.

That's my daughter. The extreme extrovert.

My son, the Pookie, however, is different. He is definitely more introverted than his sister. Since he was a baby, I've noticed that he would get overwhelmed and overstimulated at times. When my husband and the Pumpkin would be running around and playing in the family room, I'd notice that the Pookie would be getting more and more fussy. I would take him upstairs for some quiet time.

Although my daughter did amazingly well at stores, restaurants and parties as a baby, the Pookie does not do as well. This past weekend, I took him with me to a baby shower. At first, he was fine. Doing cute things and seemed happy. But as a lot of people were watching him, talking to me about him and trying to play with him or get his attention, he started getting more and more fussy.

Being more used to his sister, I had forgotten. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I tried to feed him, but that wasn't it. I tried to walk around with him, but that wasn't working. I brought him in a back room, put him in my sling and tried to get him to sleep, even though he had just napped. He started to calm down, but didn't fall asleep. I finally realized that he had been overstimulated.

I brought him back out as the presents were being opened. It was much calmer in the room then, and we sat in a chair behind the couch and everyone else. I had him happy and giggling in no time.

These two kids of mine, coming from the same parents, really do have their differences. Just like my sister and I do.

*She used her real name (or rather nickname that she goes by).


Shellie said…
Good thing you recognized what was going on, you sure made pookie a lot happier that way. It's amazing how different siblings can be.
BisBink said…
Such a cute story about the Pumpkin.
Cloud said…
I think an introvert would be harder to parent (for me) than an extrovert- I'm a strong extrovert, and I just don't "get" how introverts work. Our Pumpkin is definitely an extrovert. If Petunia turns out to be an introvert, I'm going to have a lot of reading to do!
The Pookie's introvertedness may change, too, as he gets older. Le Petit was definitely very sensitive to strangers, crowds and overstimulation when he was an infant. He was not one of those babies who could be passed from lap to lap.

Now he's more of an extrovert, or at least in the middle of the scale, I'd guess. He goes right up to people at the park without hesitation. I, myself, am definitely an introvert. (Although it's been years since I took the Myers-Brigg and I don't remember the results exactly, alas!)
caramama said…
@Bisbink - Thanks! I can't believe I hadn't shared the story before.

@Cloud - I have a lot of family members who are true introverts, so luckily I've had some practice. I'm sure you'd figure it out no problem.

@Parisienne Mais Presque - That's a really good point. He may well change. Cute that Le Petit goes right up to people in the park. Isn't it fun to watch them develop?
ENFJ here. Or, actually, EXFJ. :)
Rae said…
I do not yet have children and sometimes I think about how challenging it must be for parents to tune into the differing needs of their differing children. It sounds as if you are pretty good at this.

I am solidly on the introverted side of the spectrum but had no problem talking with strangers as a child. Maybe your daughter will end up as only a strongly extroverted woman, instead of entirely. ;-)

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