I know I'm not supposed to compare my children (as if) and if I do, I certainly shouldn't go on about it (but people with blogs always go on about things), and I definitely shouldn't be applying over-simplied cliches to them (me bad sociology major) but I find the similarities and differences between Smootch and Birdie continuously fascinating. Why are they similar in some ways? It it genetic or they way they are being raised, or it because they are growing together and, like anyone who spends a lot of time with someone else, they tend to develop similar interests and characteristics? What about their differences? And how much is it got to do with them wanting to individualize themselves or stages in their lives or social programming or vaginas vs. penises?
(Okay, maybe me good sociology major... there's a reason why I was able to stand four years of the stuff.)
Even more so, I find children to be interesting to watch all in themselves. People watching in general is absorbing, and people watching on the level of observation from conception and onwards is the greatest journey. What a blessing it is to have a front row seat.
Both kids have, of course, secret inner lives that I can only glimpse from time to time. I try not to intrude too much there. They are vulnerable, particularly to me, Mama: giver of food and hugs, and I have this feeling like I'd be like a rhino in a restaurant, banging into the furniture and knocking over all their careful constructs. I am content to sit outside and guess what's inside.
With two kids there is an added bonus of different manifestations of their stages of development. Smootch, as brilliant as she is, still only made, say, half the list of what your baby/toddler/preschooler may be doing put out by the What to Expect type popular literature. For instance, Smootch never did wild tantrums as a toddler, or were so rare as to not even register. She always, even as an infant, would sit down and listen to as many stories as you had the breath to read. She did 24 piece puzzles at 18 months. She can't throw a ball to save her life. She follows instructions and works on pleasing people (for the mixed blessing that is). I had no idea that kids could be different. I thought it was my wise parenting that was producing such a smart and focused kid.
Birdie is the other part of the list. He is so the tantrum drama. He'd rather throw a book than read it. He does not listen. If he doesn't physically experience something (read: grab, shake, poke, taste and eventually smack his sister with), he will not be able to learn about it. There is no still, only action. Even his little feet are always roving around, kicking, and scratching with his impossible to cut toe nails. He frequently tosses puzzle pieces a good 6 feet.
None of this is terribly surprising, given our ideas about girls vs. boys or birth order.
But these kids are full of curve balls. As soon as we think we have them pegged, "THIS is what this kid is about," they show us that they are, after all their own persons. Theory says, Smootch is the fussy, tidy first born girl. Not so, on any level. Smootch is an incredible slob. She thinks it's funny to see how long she can go with ketchup on her face before someone holds her down and washes it off. She keeps nothing organized. She is a girl who lives in her ideas and inspirations and can not be bothered with the mundane details of actually knowing where stuff is. (hmmmmm... sounds familiar.......)
It probably works out well that she is a genius of improv and able to create almost any prop needed with a bit of glue, paper, and felt pens. She thinks, "I can't find my magic wand. Guess I'll just make another one!" And is happy doing just that.
Birdie Boy, Mr. baby jock, is, in huge contrast, rather neat with his things. He's loves to clean up. He tidies with glee. He lines up, organizes, sorts according to colour and shape. (Smootch never did that. The shape sorting toy was her arch nemesis as a toddler.) Birdie can actually be a bit anal about some things, like having his hands cleaned after dinner.
And he holds a pencil properly, something that Smootch, in all her brainy and artsy gloriousness, did not learn to do until she was three.
I'd like to say that I will stop comparing the kids, but I know I won't. It just provides too much intellectual fodder, not to mention all sorts of entertainment. Everything I do with each one of them is new. I never really know how they're going to react, despite all my observation and note taking. I'm excited to see how their interests and passions will unfold as they grow, and, hopefully, be able to lay all sorts of helpful ideas and projects down in their paths so they can experience all that they want to. In the end, it really doesn't matter what I may think of them or if my guesses about who they are are correct. It only matters what they think of themselves and their place in the world.
Damn, I really hope I'm not screwing this up.