Growing up my sister and I fought more than we got along. Looking back I realize that much of our tension had to do with our personality types. I am an introvert while my sister is an extrovert. She craved attention and interaction while I was content to spend my time in solitude. I would have been happy to spend all day alone while she was happy to spend all day together; we were like oil and water. When I think of our relationship I remember being frustrated with her for teasing and picking on me constantly. Now I realize that she was just trying to get my attention in any way possible. If I wouldn’t willingly spend time with her then she was content to have negative attention from me in the form of fighting.
I would have expected that an introverted child would have even more difficulty in a family as large as ours. Of my first two daughters the younger one is an introvert, while her older sister is an extrovert. Miriam wants to have constant interaction and conversation while Rebekah craves her own space. On top of being one of five children introverted Rebekah shares a room with her extroverted sister and, since we homeschool she is almost constantly in close proximity to at least one sibling. One would expect the entire situation to be a recipe for disaster.
The funny thing is that Rebekah’s introverted nature can thrive in our big family just as much as her extroverted sister’s nature thrives in it. Our big family actually allows Rebekah to gain the space she needs. While my extroverted sister only had me to focus her attention on, Miriam has plenty of other siblings to interact with. This gives Rebekah the freedom to separate herself when she needs to gain some distance. Rebekah often moves to the kitchen table with art or a few toys where she can observe everyone without needing to participate. Miriam is happy because she has siblings to play with and Rebekah is happy in her solitude.