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A Young Introvert Finds Her Way

A Young Introvert Finds Her
Quiet Revolutionary Kim Crabbe’s Story
I brought my 4-year-old granddaughter, Cora, to a
birthday party on Saturday while her mother was
in school taking credits for her graduate degree in
education administration. The party was at the
dance studio where Cora takes classes, and the
birthday girl was Madison, who is in Cora’s
preschool class. We filled out Madison’s birthday
card together: I wrote the words, and Cora signed
her name and drew a picture of herself and
Madison dancing. Cora, with her long, blond curls
and bright, blue eyes, looked adorable in her
tights and gold-studded tutu.
We got to the studio early, and Madison and one
other girl was there. I hugged Cora goodbye and
watched her walk into the studio through the big
glass window. Cora looked uncomfortable. She
and Madison exchanged glances, then Madison
and the other girl twirled around the studio. Cora
stood there watching.
I left the studio to get some coffee in the shop
down the street. When I came back ten minutes
before the end of the party, the waiting room was
filled with moms talking to one another. I walked
to the window and watched as 14 girls and one boy
were huddled in the corner watching Madison
open her gifts. Cora was right there watching too.
I couldn’t hear what was happening, but I saw the
dance teacher motion the children to form a circle
in the center of the room. All the children fanned
out and held hands. Two girls found themselves
outside the circle. One was Cora. I watched as the
other girl tapped on the arms of two girls in front
of her, then tapped a little harder till they released
their hands and let her in the circle. Cora walked
up to the locked hands in front of her and tried to
get in, but they did not let go. The teacher saw this
and said something to the girls. Cora tried again,
but they still did not let go. The teacher said it
again, louder this time. But still the circle was
closed. Cora stepped away and just smiled politely
and shrugged, as in “it’s okay, I don’t mind.” But
the teacher let go of the hands she was holding,
then physically broke apart the hands of the girls
in front of Cora, and beckoned Cora to come into
the circle. Then, they all just danced.
This might have taken only 75 seconds, but in
those 75 seconds my heart broke. My heart broke
for the hurt my little, sensitive, and kind
granddaughter had felt. My heart broke with the
understanding that this, the life of an introvert,
was only the beginning of moments spent
standing outside the circle.
Like her mother and grandmother, Cora is an
introvert. She is thoughtful, creative, smart,
mature, sensitive, and quiet. She loves books and
words and loves to watch movies. Cora is a great
friend to Roslyn, who moved away in September
but still sends cards and pictures. She is delightful
and engaging and loves to spend time with her
family. Cora is our girl, and we love her dearly.
I didn’t say anything to Cora about what I saw.
She was quiet in the car but perked up when I told
her we were going to the library. She picked out
six chapter books, one book on tape, and one
movie. We stopped at the frozen yogurt shop and
had a sundae. We went back to the house and
watched the movie. We had a great afternoon.
One day, I will share with Cora what I know: that
sometimes it is hard to fit in, that we don’t always
think or act the way others do, but we are
talented, deeply committed people who are vital
beings in a world that needs kindness, creative
thought, quiet reflection, caring, and listening.
But most importantly, I’ll tell Cora that being her
whole amazing self is much better, much more
fulfilling, than fitting into the circle. I will tell her
that she will form a different circle, holding the
hands of those who get it, those who dance with
confidence to the music made by their own
glorious sounds.