Oddly enough, I'm not going to talk about my belly button.
Instead, I want to blog about Conor's adjustment to his new room in daycare. It's a much bigger, much more exciting room with lots of toys and lots of noise and kids. It's very stimulating and we think it would fun to hang out there and play for the day. However, Conor has not adjusted to it as well as the teachers would like.
After a few weeks, they told us that he preferred playing by himself or reading a book instead of playing with the other kids. Then they told us that they were concerned about his attention span because he didn't like to spend a lot of time doing the circle activity. I questioned any problems with his attention span (he's always been able to focus and do whatever he wants for a long period of time). I suggested that it may be just a little too stimulating for him. I also was concerned a bit that he wasn't playing with the other kids. (Isn't that every parent's fear?) However, I think I let my concern ramp up their concern.
On Weds, we found out that during the regular teacher/specialist meetings, they alerted the inclusion specialist that they were concerned about Conor's participation in the class. The teacher told me that although Conor is receptive to other children approaching him and wanting to play, he does not initiate interaction with other children. Also, they felt he should be more active in the circle group. He hasn't seen a child that reticent in the 7 years he's been teaching. (That scared me a bit)
Then he pointed out that just that day Conor had taken some toys into circle time and was poking another child with them. They had asked him to sit outside the group for a few minutes until he was able to come back in.
Without missing a beat, I said "It looks like he was initiating interaction right there, wasn't he?"
The teacher looked slyly at me and pointed out the difference between "appropriate and inappropriate initiation."
I'm just saying.
The inclusion specialist wasn't concerned at all and when I asked if we should try to schedule more playdates, she said No. Just keep reading to him, playing with him and loving him. Not too hard. But the teachers seem more concerned.
Here's the pushback part. Conor does not have any of the signs for Asperger's Syndrome. The only thing that is happening is that he appears to be a little slow to warming up to this new classroom.
Since I know his father pretty well, I'm voting that our little guy is a bit more introverted than the average bear. Introversion is not shyness. Shyness involves a social anxiety that Conor does not have. Introversion, on the other hand, has to do with where one gets one's energy.
Here's a question for you: You have a completely free day with no obligations. What would you like to do?
No seriously. Think for a second, what would you do on your free day?
If your fantasy free day involves going out with friends and doing things with others, you are likely to be an extrovert: you get your energy from stimulation outside of yourself. I am an extrovert. People pump me up.
If your fantasy free day involved reading a book at home or doing some other thing alone, then you are likely to be an introvert: You get your energy from inside yourself. You likely have a rich inner life. A lot of external activity and stimulation can be overwhelming and tiring. Introverts often need to be alone to recharge themselves. Dave is an introvert.
Introversion/extroversion has a strong genetic component and does not have much to do with the environment in which one is raised. It is such a fundamental part of people's lives because introverts' and extroverts' brains are wired differently. It's a fundamental part of how people want and need to process the information around them.
So I think Conor is an introvert, or "innie" as they are sometimes called. And introverts function differently in classrooms than extroverts do. (And of course, the bias is for outies and not innies). They don't like group activities as much and they need time away from everyone else to process the information they are learning.
This sounds a lot like the "problems" Conor is having in school. The good news is that innies will eventually start participating like everyone else after a few more weeks/months in the classroom. But it does take them longer than average. And I don't want to walk into the classroom and say "YOU'RE WRONG! HE'S JUST AN INTROVERT!! BACK OFF!" Actually, I DO want to do that, but I'm not going to. I do want for Conor to develop more social skills, like I would want all toddler kids to do so. I just want there to be no pressure on him as he does so. And they just let him warm up at his own pace.
That said, I do have a fantasy of saying to his teachers:
Maybe the circle activity is boring? Huh? Have you thought about that? Picking your favorite colors? Conor's been doing that at least since his ((brilliant, genius, friendly)) cousin Carter* came to visit last Thanksgiving. And you're going to TEACH him that his parent's have their own names and then get him to learn his address? PUH-lease!! He not only knows HIS own address but he knows his friend Ollie's address!! MAYBE he doesn't participate in this group because it's BORING and he doesn't want to do STUPID THINGS that he already knows how to do. And maybe the other kids? Do you think they might be boring too? Huh???? Maybe our son is just TOO SMART to identify colors in a group. What about THAT!
So, ummm, yeah. I won't be saying that. It does come off a wee bit more defensive than I'd like. And I don't think the issue is as much our-son-is-too-smart-and-is-bored as it is our-son-is-overwhelmed-by-all-this-kid-noise-and-craziness. Introversion is not a Bad Thing. But it is likely to present some challenges in some environments. I think we're going to have to educate the teachers about it when they worry that Conor is just following along.
So there. *I'm trying to find Carter's personal web site, and I can't! He's one of the main reasons we are not going to argue Conor is so smart for his age. The second one is Ollie. Conor's not bored in that group. He's overwhelmed. I've seen his father do the same thing.