For Independence Day this year, we visited the extended part of my wife’s side of the family. Her closest cousin, Allison, was up from North Carolina and it had been a while since my wife had seen her. Allison and her husband have two kids, the youngest of which (a daughter) is only a little older than our oldest daughter, and though they are similar in age, they could not be more different in personality.
From the moment we got to the get-together, Allison’s daughter assailed us with “why?” questions. Inquisitiveness is nothing new to us. Our own daughter’s first words were, “what’s that?”. But the difference between the questions is that “why?” can lead to more questions of “why?” while “what’s that” is usually answered by a single word or phrase.
After the line of questioning started getting awkward (“Why was that baby made?”), we were able to move her attention onto our oldest daughter by suggesting that they play together. Our oldest daughter is terribly shy and unused to other children, so it came as quite a shock with her slightly older second-cousin grabbed her hand and started leading her toward the screened in gazebo nearby to play.
My wife’s sister, who was in the gazebo at the time, told us that the second cousin’s version of playing was telling our daughter what she was and was not allowed to do.
“You can sit now.”
“You can read this book.”
“You can’t sit there. You have to sit here.”
And so on.
And for the first half hour or so, our daughter hesitantly obeyed. Everywhere they went, they held hands. Well, our daughter had her hand held whether she wanted it or not. I think she was intimidated by her second-cousin’s impressive force of will. Heck, I was intimidated by the child. But then a funny thing happened. The hand-holding started being mutual. The direction they went started being decided upon by my daughter a bit more. And she finally lost her “deer in the headlights” look and started smiling.
It was one of her first out-of-her-comfort-zone experiences, and she went from uncomfortable to enjoying it in less time than I thought she would. I am pretty proud of her.
It is funny to see how people react in those out-of-comfort-zone experiences. My wife usually stays very quiet and follows the leader for a good long while. My comfort zone is unusually large, so I don’t get to experience this very often, but when I do, it doesn’t usually take me long to adapt. It is funny how my oldest exhibited both behaviors.
What is your natural reaction to being forced from your comfort zone? How long does it take you to adjust?