Sunday, July 18, 2010

Outside

I made it to my real ward today. I admit, I was a little apprehensive about going, simply because I'm always nervous about meeting new people. Really, it wasn't that bad. How could it be when the sacrament program read, "Excepting a calling can bring blessings into your life" across the bottom? If people have that much understanding of others' life situations (j/k). In spite of my rather reticent behavior, I had to extricate myself from the RS room after the final class because people kept introducing themselves to me and making sure I knew how to get to the ward BBQ this weekend and such. The teaching was excellent, the discussion uplifting (mostly--I was a little taken aback so many people had such ready justifications for spending money on temples instead of on poor people). My only complaint is that when talks ran long they cut out singing (which is what should be done, I just hate to miss out on singing!).

I packed Sylvia into the car, threw her the snacks she was scrambling for, and drove us home. By the time we got there, Sylvia was asleep, so I grabbed Derrick and we left for a work party at the home of one of his colleagues. Sylvia slept basically until we got there, at which point, because Derrick couldn't figure out how to work the gate and was to chicken to just walk in, Sylvia woke up. Half an hour is not enough time for a nap; consequently, Sylvia was a willful pain the rest of the afternoon. We couldn't get her to eat anything and then they opened up the hot tub.

It was a beautiful hot tub--tall cedar built like a huge wine barrel--perfect for soaking in the cool, freeway-bottomed canyon. Another little boy (several years older than Sylvia) pretty much played in the hot tub all afternoon while his parents talked with other adults. I wanted so badly to be able to do the same, but since Sylvia's not even 2, I had to stay with her and keep her from tumbling into the tepid water and drowning. So, I talked to like four people who took pity on me (although one of them is a PhD student who is apparently using some of the data I helped collect about 10 years ago on a transit cruise from Chile to Tasmania--very cool!) and let my daughter splash me the rest of the time. Such fun.

All afternoon I could hear interesting conversations going on all around, but I couldn't join in because I had to watch Sylvia. Most of the people who talked to me were the older people, mostly parents or grandparents. The younger people for the most part left me alone, or made perfunctory conversation that ended quickly. I kind of understand--I'm socially awkward, and I suspect many of the people in attendance are similarly awkward, but usually at some point the barrier breaks down enough that I don't feel like a complete outsider. At some point I can take part in a larger conversation, however briefly. I feel like having Sylvia around puts up an extra barrier to breaking into the group. Having to watch her like a hawk because there's a large tub of water certainly didn't help, but I wonder if I would have found a way to feel included even if that hadn't been there, or if my choice to have a child puts me in such a different category of person that I just won't find a place in this community of scientists.

2 comments:

  1. We went to a picnic the other day where I basically ended up monitoring Gareth at the play area while everyone else was able to enjoy interesting adult conversation. It was incredibly frustrating! (I would've made Ryan switch off more, but he'd recently taken the monitoring role on another occasion, so I felt it was his turn to socialize.)

    Anyway, I'm often surprised at how much a little one distracts from the conversation. It always looks like the other person thinks I'm not really interested since I have to keep looking away to make sure Gareth isn't getting into trouble. And then the other person takes the first opportunity to find someone "more interesting" to talk to. Maybe that's all in my head, but that's what it feels like.

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  2. I have had the same experience, even without a hot tub to get in the way. At this point, I don't bother going to large social gatherings at which there aren't other little kids, unless I am going without J. Non-parents just don't think to restart conversation that has been interrupted by parenting moments, while other parents help keep an eye on kids... meaning that conversation is easier and I don't have to be 100% concentrating on J when socializing with other parents.

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