Sunday, October 21, 2007

Only You

It's Sunday night, and we are back from the woods. There was much walking and stick-throwing for the dog, and general communing with nature and crispness.

My mother had a paint-by-numbers picture up there, and I spent 73,000 hours working on it. It is supposed to be the kind of thing that anyone who comes to visit the cabin gets to work on, but that annoyed me. After the 47th hour, this painting was mine. I did not want any yahoo up there messing up the cardinal or the light in the window.

I am an only child, did I mention that?

And actually, speaking of which, I would like your opinion on this scenario. Please note that I have to tell you that I bought chairs for our kitchen table and my mother bought me clothes and SHOES, but first I wanted to ask about this.

My mother has a cousin, also an only child, who has the same name as me. Ever since I was born, this poor cousin has been "Big June" while I got to be "Little June." If I were her I would hate me.

At any rate, Big June and her husband also came to said cabin on Saturday. They walked in. We said our hellos. The men went outside to move a boat or some manly thing. Big June found a photo album and started looking at it. I was maybe seven feet away, painting my paint-by-numbers kit. For a lovely three minutes, we did this.

Me: [Paint paint paint.]
Big June: [Peruse peruse peruse.]

All of a sudden my mother came in, chatting like a magpie. "Have you two looked at that lake? And those colors! You should have seen it this morning! It looked like the trees were on fire! Oh!"

Me: [...paint paint paint...]
Big June: [...peruse peruse peruse...]

After a minute or two, my mother came back in, this time from the kitchen. "We have pie! Do either of you want pie!? It's blueberry! It has real filling! There's coffee! Do you want to walk down by that lake? I'll be outside if you want to walk down there."

She left, and after a while Big June, never looking up from her album, said, "She wants to talk."

"I KNOW," I agreed heavily. We were appalled at this idea. It was as if my poor mother, who just wanted to converse with her out-of-town daughter and her guest, had suggested we all strip naked, make bikinis out of metal Jello molds, and plunge into the icy lake.

"I think this is an only child thing," I told Big June. My mother comes from a loud family of five.

So, is that it? Are we happy to be silent together because we have no siblings? Are there people from giant loud families who also enjoy their quiet time? Does quiet time equal "we aren't having fun" for you? Or are Big June and I just huge bitches?

I would like to hear from people on both sides of this family fence.


Catherine said...

I think it's an introvert thing. I have 2 brothers and I'm an introvert. I have a good friend who is an extroverted only child.

When my family gets together, even though several of us are introverted, all we do is talk and eat. I find this completely exhausting and I get frequent "headaches" or I "need a nap" or I "take forever getting ready." I just need alone time and somehow it seems impossible to simply ask for it, as it seems to hurt people's feelings.

One time in the middle of the winter I announced that I was going to take a walk (just to get the heck out of the living room) and I almost burst into tears when my grandmother said she wanted to come with me.

So I feel your pain. And I love quiet time.

Anonymous said...

Well, it could be an only child thing (or "thang" as they say in the South), or it could be that she feels the need to entertain you, or she had all these plans of "fun" things you all could do together - things she loves to do and hoped you would love two. But instead you and the other June were painting and perusing. But you know your Mom better than I do, I could be wrong.

But it sounds like a lovely weekend, especially the new shoes part.

No Google Acount Mary Ellen

Anonymous said...

I like quiet time and usually don't feel uncomfortable during silent spaces, but then I was on the tail end of the sibship and was really raised with just Jimmy. I don't think it's an only-child thing. I'm sure your mom just wanted to make sure you two didn't get bored. Being the middle child, she'd probably feel like a mediator, cruise director, etc. Does she hava a name, other than the one our mother gave her? You know, for writing purposes.

Marcy said...

I totally relate. I am one of five kids and yet I love doing quiet things with people who don't believe you have to talk the whole time!

jtcosby said...

I have a brother and sister and there is never a quiet moment when we get together. Now, that is NOT how my sister likes it. My sister LOVES to be in a quiet room with her books and well, even in the same room with all of us, she will be with a book, in the book, completely IGNORING all of us. So i am not sure its an only child thing so much as its an introvert/extrovert thing. I love people...just about anyone. I love to talk to people all the time. My children are a combination of all of the above. :)

Bronwyn. said...

I come from a family of three children,I am the middle. I have two very loud children. They have very loud friends. I have a husband who is possibly going deaf, judging by the volume level on the television. I hate noise. I love quiet. I am not a talker, unless I am around girlfriends and there is fashion or shoes or makeup or some other weighty matter to be discussed. So, I don't think it's an only child thing. I think it's a talker thing, as opposed to a family size thing.

When are you driving back? Have a good safe drive!

sabrina duncan said...

I can see the annoyed look on your face from HERE.

I like quiet time and not quiet time. Since I am usually alone, I prefer the time with others thing. I probably would have taken Maybelle (June Cash's mother!) up on her offer of pie and conversation (unless of course I didn't care for the pie) Did it have things in it I don't care for?

anyway, charlie's angels will be solving an LA-based caper next weekend. Wish you were there; you could see Grandma!

Linda .. the Aussie one! said...

My daughter is an only child and if she was there with you she would be standing in the other corner silently painting. My sisters three kids on the other hand would have been in the lake and on the lake and around the lake and talking up a storm the whole time. :o)

The Hotfessional said...

I think it's an only child thing. Mr. Hot talks and talks and talks. He's one of 6 sibings. I talk all day at work - then I don't want to talk at home (I'm one of 3).

Shortman, our son, the only child? You have to DRAG every word out. But he's perfectly content that way.

Lara said...

I'm pretty sure it is an introvert/extrovert thing too. I was raised taking the Myers Briggs temperment test on a regular basis and I just went through a whole seminar on it again with my husband who is in grad school. It makes a LOT of sense.

Anonymous said...

I think the two of you are bitches and that explains it.

Anonymous said...

I am an only child. I LOVE my quiet time. I can't say that I've had much in the past six years....

However, I have never noticed your mother chatting like a magpie....and I don't think I would care if she did. You are VERY fortunate to have her for a mother.

Tee said...

It's not an only child issue. I have to say ditto to Marcy's comment. I am the primary care giver for my Mom who believes you have to talk ALL your waking hours if you are with someone. It My husband can be that way as well.

Your pal from MA said...

Dear June,

As your oldest pal and a tried and true "only," I do believe it's an "only" thing. I do not feel the need to fill EVERY. LIVING. BREATHING. MINUTE. with some sort of noisy stimulation. I canNOT for the LIFE of me understand those people who have the television on ALL DAY LONG to fill the golden silence in their homes. I hate noise. HATE it. And that goes for the verbal diarrhea that MANY humans mistake for meaningful conversation.

Who's the bitch now??!!!!

That would be me,
Yours truly,
Your pal from MA

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is most likely a personality thing as opposed to a family dynamic thing. even us with bro's and ho's like our quiet alone time when the thought of conversing with other people makes our skin burn.

But the family dynamic thing probably IS part of it.