Remember Veruca Salt?

I’m not talking about the band, either. The all time classic movie from my childhood is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If you are anywhere near my age, or if you have just seen the original movie (I won’t even comment on the creepiness of the Johnny Depp remake), you will remember Veruca Salt.

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Oh yeah. There she is as we best remember her – demanding something that she wants. Of all the children’s characters in that movie, Veruca Salt stands out. Why? Because she has personality. Yes, she’s a spoiled brat. Yes, she is pretty unlikable and we feel sorry for her father in the movie, being saddled with such a termagant for a kid. But maybe Veruca is misunderstood. She’s a little girl begging for attention from her parents, who are too busy for her and instead indulge her every whim so that they don’t have to deal with any confrontation.

Look at that sweet face. All she wanted was a golden egg! Geez!

 

You’re thinking, What’s the point of all this, Tamara? The point, my dears, is that we remember Veruca because of her distinct personality. Actually, she’s my favorite character in the movie because she completely cracks me up. That girl knows how to get what she wants.

I keep this thought in my head when I’m dealing with the little quirks of my own children’s personalities. This morning, I dropped my son off for his last day of nursery school. He was wearing his favorite Spiderman t-shirt and matching shorts. He was also wearing his Spiderman winter cap and red gloves. He refused to take them off before we left because he said that wearing them makes him Spiderman. So Spiderman/Chase went to school in a winter hat and gloves because I figure, hey, that’s just his personality. Who cares if it looks a little ridiculous; it’s pretty cute if you ask me.

And when my daughter wears her bathing suit to school under her clothes and removes said clothes on the bus in the morning? Okay, okay, I think. It’s just a Veruca Salt. She’s just being who she is, my quirky little firecracker who thinks she looks pretty in her bathing suit.

I grew up with a strong personality. I, too, know how to get what I want. So when my kids are testing my limits with all those personality quirks that make them who they are, I tell myself that they’ll turn out all right. Because I was quirky too and look how great I turned out.

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An Introvert’s Guide to Parenting

Hi, my name is Tamara and I’m an introvert. One of the many, many things that I didn’t know about parenting when I was newly wedded and dreaming of babies is that your entire social sphere is altered irreparably by the appearance of a mini-you.

When you become a parent:

Strangers Will Feel Urged to Talk to You. It’s like some invisible door has been opened and people feel comfortable stepping on through to chat. If you are outside of the house and are toting a kid (or two), people feel some sort of common bond with you. Which means they will strike up a conversation. Anywhere you go. You’re standing in the grocery store staring at the wall of spaghetti sauces and trying to decide which one you want while simultaneously remembering something stupid you said 15 years ago and (on the other side of your brain) trying to debunk Sartre’s Existentialist Philosophy. A stranger will roll on up into your peripheral vision and smile and make some benign comment about your kids. Or about children in general. Or (my favorite) ask you a stupid question. Like, “Oh my God, they are so cute! Are they twins?” when, really, your kids are different genders and 2 years apart in age.

This stranger-speaking phenomenon will begin the moment you are obviously pregnant. During your pregnancy, the stranger speaking to you may also touch you. You will, most assuredly, hear at least one terrifying birth/parenting story that will haunt you for the next three months.

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Kids will invite your kids to birthday parties. Hello personal nightmare. No matter the venue, it’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s overwhelmingly visually stimulating and you will need to try to keep track of where your child is at all moments while mingling with complete strangers. These parties can last for hours. And you can’t leave whenever you want because a) they haven’t sung Happy Birthday yet, b) you don’t want to offend the parents of your kid’s friend or c) you’re parked in and would have to ask 5+ strangers to move their cars. Did I mention that it’s loud? And crowded?

You have to go places you would never had visited before. There are baby clothes stores, baby furniture stores, photography studios, school functions, school field trips, your neighbors’ houses, ER visits, pediatricians, pediatric eye doctors, any number of specialists if your pediatrician thinks something is wrong with your child’s development. You will visit water parks, amusement parks, local parks and playgrounds packed with other parents who will want to chat because they haven’t spoken to another adult all day long. You will, at least once, set foot in a kid-centric restaurant/playland for birthday parties. See above.

Eventually, your kids will want to leave the house. This will bother you since you can’t think of anything more fun than hanging out at home. In elastic waistband pants. Your kids, on the other hand, will be able to think of numerous places outside of the house and yard that they would like you to take them. See above.

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You will dread drop-off/pick-up and/or the wait at the bus stop. The drive-by drop-off is always preferred by the introvert, but sometimes that’s not an option. You will be mingling with the other parents while you drop off and pick up. You will have to stand at the bus stop with a group of other parents from your neighborhood and make *shudder* small talk. (This introvert will say that once you get to know the parents, this won’t bother you anymore. You will look forward to chatting with the one or two parents that you know.)

You will have to do all these things without letting your kids know they bother you, because you don’t want to inadvertently teach them to be uncomfortable in the same circumstances.

Can my other introverted parents out there think of anything I missed?