Katie is, undoubtedly, an introvert. She's friendly and kind, but given the choice she'd bury herself in a book in a quiet corner. Maybe, just maybe, she'd like to play a game or have a conversation with up to two friends, preferably one. Any more than that sucks all the energy out of her. One-on-one with someone she trusts and likes she will not stop talking; but in a crowd of more than two, she shuts down.
I know this about her--and it's the same truth for Rob--but I tend to forget. I don't like huge crowds (instant stabby Julie: just add crowds), but I am most comfortable with 4-5 people around. I like a lively conversation. I like a little noise. I like having a second conversation going at my left elbow while I'm engaged in the one on my right, just in case one loses focus and I can chime in on the other.
While at my parents last week, there were quite a few young cousins and lots of aunts and uncles and friends at the farm. Katie disappeared from view for quite awhile and was finally found curled up with a magazine by herself. I nudged her back into being social, which resulted in her inviting one cousin to play a card game with her. The two of them sat in a quiet space and chatted over cards while snacking. I know she appreciated having some interaction with her cousin, but her default is to just tune out and do her own thing. Nudges are necessary. When the three six-year-old boy cousins later tumbled into the room, Katie was overwhelmed almost immediately and shut down for awhile again.
On our way in to school today, she was talking about her two closest friends and how they have an agreement to try to partner up for all fitness class activities. I noticed she wasn't mentioning another girl she was friends with and asked. It turns out she's not in that section of fitness, not that she's being excluded, which is good; but I still used it as a time to talk about girls and cliques and the importance of not excluding a friend and of keeping your heart open to new friends.
"But mom. One problem with being nice to everyone."
What's that, baby girl?
"Then everyone wants to play with me. At recess. I want to just do some chalk drawing or jumprope alone sometimes. If I'm nice to everyone, they all ask me to come play with them, or ask to play with me."