Questions Show That You Care — but So Does Waiting to Ask Them

It’s the first night of hockey practice for my son Theo, and he comes off the ice afterwards with a big smile on his face — one that shines right through the mask on his helmet.

“How was it?” I ask, knowing what the answer will be.

“Good,” he replies.

I was ready for that!

“1 to 10 it for me,” I say in return, asking him — as I often do with our kids and their activities — to rate it on a scale of 1 (worst experience of his life) to 10 (best).

“10,” he says instantly.

Cool! I’m excited for him! I’m supportive of him! I’m being a good dad!

We go to the locker room together, where I proceed to pepper him with more questions, as though he has somehow signed on to play goalie and stare down slapshot after slapshot.

“How were the skates?” He was wearing new ones for the first time. “You got a shot on goal there at the end — how did that feel?” And, as we are leaving: “You got all your stuff? Two elbow pads? Two shinguards? Two gloves? Two socks?”

We make our way out to the car, and once there I fire yet another shot from the blue line: “What was your favorite part of the night?”

Virtual silence.

I wasn’t ready for that.

But I should have been. I should know better; I’m an introvert. I write about introverts incessantly. And if there’s one thing I know about introverts, it’s this: We need five or 10 or 15 minutes to cool our jets after an intense experience before we can answer a bunch of questions about it.

Theo leans strongly introvert.

Oops.

“Do you just want to sit there and veg for a while on the way home?” I ask sheepishly — knowing what the answer will be.

“Uh huh.”

Lesson learned. Lesson relearned.

Until the next day.

My wife Adrianne arrives home at about 4:00 after a long day teaching kindergartners. Squirrelly kindergartners. Kindergartners who are still getting into the swing of not only the new school year, but of school itself.

“How was your day?” I ask, knowing what the answer will be.

“Crazy,” she replies.

I was ready for that!

And I feel for my lovely wife! I’m supportive of her! I’m being a good husband!

“I can handle Katie’s gymnastics tonight,” I start in. Our daughter Katie has gymnastics three times a week for two hours each session.

“And you can still get to your yoga class later,” I add, launching into my detailed game plan with her like she’s taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque and stumbled into yet another after-school teacher consultation meeting.

“Just tell me what you need.”

A slight pause.

And then: “I don’t know?!” (with both the question mark and the exclamation point).

I wasn’t ready for that.

But I should have been. I should know better; I’m an introvert. I write about introverts incessantly. And if there’s one thing I know about introverts, it’s this: We need five or 10 or 15 minutes to cool our jets after an intense experience before we can answer a bunch of questions about it.

Adrianne is an introvert.

Oops.

“I’m just going to sit here next to you and let you be, hon,” I say, knowing what her response will be.

Silence. Relief. The sense of being supported and cherished minus the words — until the time is right.

It’s amazing how easy it is to forget, to say nothing of the irony. But apparently I need a poster to remind me:

Introverts

Need

Time

to

Process

and

Decompress

Lesson learned. Lesson relearned.

For now, at least.

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