A while ago I wrote something about how being here made me feel like a square peg being hammered through a round hole and I suddenly feel the need to quantify that still further.
The trigger for this is something that happened yesterday, at around 6.30pm. We had made a plan to go to the local supermarket and buy a loaf of bread. Not just any old stuff, but the best quality one we could obtain, from Hobro’s finest baker. It’s good stuff, especially when they reduce the price dramatically later in the day – helps it taste even better. I drove in and parked up, then we realised the car parked next to us was familiar. It was the exact Blue Chevrolet Aveo I had purchased 4 years earlier. I believe it’s been in a road crash since, but I couldn’t see any lasting damage. It’s strange how these coincidences happen and as we walked in, out walked 2 people I recognised, including my middle daughter, who turned red and proceeded to ignore me. Yes, her own father.
It’s a real shame, since personality-wise, she always seemed to have inherited the same traits as I carry myself. Traits that are misunderstood in this day and age, especially in a country that considers it important to conform. One where if you don’t, then it means there must be something wrong with you, not us.
I’ve been worried about this for quite some time. I once remember her anger on a bad hay fever day and that I went to talk to her, understanding that the hay fever was behind it and that it was OK, I knew it wasn’t the real her. The resident modern childcare expert would not have handled that the same way and I felt I’d achieved something, that a bond of understanding had been made. On the basis of yesterday evening, I was wrong. Or does she still remember it somewhere deep inside?
What is this familial trait I’ve passed down that’s such a crime anyway? Why it’s introversion, of course. Especially in a country where everyone wants to be considered a pretty zany guy, wanting to be alone, with your own thoughts and to think things through carefully – on your own, is a major, major crime. It really is. In a world where instant decisions are the best ones and social – whether it be in person or via your mobile device – is a good word. If you’re not social you are ill, needing to be psychologically or pharmaceutically cured of this major ailment. I’d suffered it all my life and nowadays I think it’s considered even more of an affliction. It really isn’t. It’s a major ability to be able to sit back, absorb what’s important and consider it carefully are great skills that should not be lost to the human race.
Through the years, I’d been accused of being anti-social, a loner, too quiet. It’s only when you’re an adult that you learn to realise you’re okay and these are good traits. Your own traits. No drugs or mind programming needed. Admittedly, somewhere along the line with this confidence in myself came the ability to do things that would have terrified the young me, like standing up and talking in front of a room of people. It doesn’t mean I’ve changed though.
Even now I browse the school facebook page whenever new photos are posted, looking for the clues as to her well-being and to be honest, I am bit worried. There are some photos where I believe I know exactly what she’s thinking, as she stands in the background looking on. What can I do though? I am not considered a modern childcare expert worthy of consultation or involvement.
The same could be said of my elder daughter. I remember that I was much less concerned about her seeming to enjoy her own company more than that of classmates than the resident expert, who insisted she must have play dates and expressed a wish that she was more outgoing. I debated it, but next I knew a hanging out session (what else to call it?) at our house was arranged via the mothers with one particular girl of debatable parental quality. While I may seem a bit of a snob, if I told you that they were later happily letting her spend the night with her boyfriend aged 13, do I have a point? Actually, my first major clue was the time they borrowed the monopoly set I’d bought our children and proceeded to not return it for weeks then admit they’d accidentally destroyed it. What was that about respect and the welfare state? I still wonder to this day if the story I was told about them finally buying us a replacement one is true, or whether I paid for it without knowing so that I’d finally stop asking when we were getting it back. Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
So, in summary, I am worried. Children need to know that being an introvert is a good thing, it’s how you are and it brings many skills that an extrovert will never have. I worry because I don’t see the influences that will say it’s fine to be like that and present the benefits – and the evidence of the past few years with the school photos and college failures suggests I may be right. Just accept you’re a square peg and never let anyone try and hammer you through a round hole. Enjoy life as a square.
Now, since you won’t be needing that hammer, can you give me it back?