Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Some Introverts (at least the ones I am related to) Ought Not Teach (each other)

According to most commonly accepted measures of versionicity, everybody in my family is introverted to some degree.  Myself included.
Long story short? If you come home from a party energized and ready for more?  You aren't related to me.

One coping mechanism employed to good result by introverts is to insulate ourselves by establishing patterns of practice.  If we have a way we "usually" do something, it becomes less an energy drain and we can bank that energy savings against the needs of other less controllable yet highly demanding situations.  Like doing anything in crowded or noisy spaces (otherwise known as "being in public" or "leaving the house").    

As with any coping mechanism, this strength can (and does) twist around to become a head eating its own tail weakness. Having a usual way to do something way too easily morphs - unacknowledged - from pleasantly repetitive pattern into specificity demanding monster.  

This hardening off of "a reliable way" into "the only acceptable way" to perform a task is as invasive as Bermuda grass and twice as hard to eradicate.  The resulting constriction-of-technique effect democratically splashes over any and everything.  

On any given day according to any one of us in this oh-so-tightly-wound-household of mine there can be an Only Right Way to:    Make Coffee    Leave the suburb    Park the car    Order in a restaurant    Time our arrival at the airport     Make a sandwich    Pack for a trip    Water plants    Choose an outfit    Order takeout   Hold chopsticks    Salt food    Walk.....
Suddenly we are bumping up against THE (One Right) Way to do almost everything there is worth doing.   

It can make for some fraught familial teaching moments.  What we AustinAgrodolce family circle types really mean when we casually suggest we will be "teaching" is that we will, due to boundless generosity of spirit, allow our student-kin a brief glimpse at the greatness that is Our One Right Way to get that something done.  

The specificity requirements of said One Right Way to be matched only by the speed with which our patience evaporates as we watch our targeted student-spouse or offspring fruitlessly attempting perfection on their first run.  Or worse, stubbornly holding to performing the task some "other" way.

Anyone daring to hint at even the concept of a different approach (no matter how equally correct or scientifically supported we maintain it to be) will potentially be subjected to a hailstorm of criticism, all offered up with the sort of optimistic fervor typically accompanying the conversion and thus saving of an otherwise lost soul.   

Best case scenario we might shrug and say "here, let me show you again" when what we really mean is "please, if you are going to bother at all, do it exactly this way or have the dignity to die valiantly trying".  

Not so best case scenario?  What we offer up may come packaged thusly: "Pay very careful attention.  I will be showing you via a series of barks and gestures the Only Right Way To _______ (Under Any Circumstances).  If you have any questions, please hold them forever.  This process has never been before and is most certainly not open now for discussion."  

Either scenario may be followed shortly by the casting of personal aspersions which, after all, is always most effectively done by family members.  

Nobody can imply "you are flawed" with more vigor or specificity than a blood relative.  

What fascinates me most I think is that this my-way-or-the-highway rigidity only extends to immediate family members.  When faced with anybody else, be ye stranger, work acquaintance or friend, as long as you are not an immediate family member you will be treated, and therefore instructed, gently, and with the utmost respect.  

Any one of us will tirelessly use up every iota of patience potentially allotted us for decades to come to teach a stranger.  We may even leap at the opportunity.  As introverts we truly, deeply, constitutionally appreciate a well ordered universe.   Sharing best practices is the shortest route we know to get there.  Or at least closer to there. 

Why can't I be as patient with my family as I am with everybody/anybody else?  I have no idea worth repeating.  I wish I could, I wish I had through the years, especially trying to teach my kids various life skills.  But that patient-with-family teacher was not me, is not me, and I suspect may not be my kids now, either.

I'm not stopping to say what they are, but I'm seeing there are all sorts of lessons to be learned in that.  
There is a saying, "when the pupil is ready, the teacher appears".  I'll just keep my fingers crossed that in this instance, when that teacher appears, it won't be anybody closely related to me.  


Linda/patchwork said...

Haha....I can SO relate to this.
I have a reputation...not just in the family...of being very 'picky'. That's just a polite way to say I'm a pain in the posterior.
But, I have gotten better. Age does smooth some things out. (not skin, though)
I now stop myself from moving an object just that half inch to that 'right' spot. Life's easier this way.
I have also learned not to ask for patience. Those lessons provided for that are just not that much fun.
Have a great weekend.

Tina said...

Are you my long-lost sister?

Cat said...

Ha! Could it be that all your readers are introverts? Or could it be most bloggers are? Part of me wants to let my daughter read this...the other part thinks it would be better just between us.

TexasDeb said...

Linda: I wish I was as smart as you. I keep forgetting about that "be careful what you wish for" adage and am thusly doomed to repeat sucky lessons forever, apparently.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Sister! Growing up I always asked for my parents to give me an older sister (I'm NOT saying you're older!). Clearly I lacked a good grasp of the facts involved. So if I am your lost sis, then now I am found! Yay! When can I expect you over to braid my hair and talk smack about boys?

TexasDeb said...

Cat: Yours is quite the insight. I read a lot of introverts are to be found here on the interwebs where we can titrate our exposure to others in doses that are manageable.

If you feel your daughter might benefit from reading this I suggest you absolutely forbid her from doing so. That oughta about do the trick.