I used to hear everyone talk about how dramatically different their kids were from one another. I guess in some sense I believed it because my sister and I were very different kids, but on the other hand, I wonder what creates these differences in kids.
Yes, we are different parents to the two kids than we were to just my son. When you bring that second baby home, everything changes, and it’s inevitable. So I really shouldn’t be surprised that my two kids are so different.
Jake is my quiet, insightful thinker with a big imagination. In play he becomes animated and excited – using multiple voices for his different animals, pitting T-Rex dinosaurs against Batman, and telling you story upon story about all of his toys. But in life, he’s a thinker. With the memory of an elephant, he remembers everything you ever said and everything you’ve ever done together. Case and point: yesterday we had tickets to Elmo Live. I was so excited to take him (it was his third time – once a year) but I was cautious to create too much excitement (heaven forbid one of the kids got sick before the show). So I decided not to tell him. We got off the exit, and were driving toward the theater. Before he even saw the Sesame Street truck or the show billboard, he said “Mama, that’s where Elmo is”. He knew just by seeing the outside of the theater.
He was quiet and reserved through the first half of the show – watching and soaking it all in. He’s been like this for all the special events we’ve taken him to – movies, Sesame Street Live, the circus. You would question whether he actually was engaged in it, but when you listen to him talk about it for the next three weeks, you know he thoroughly enjoyed it and it has made an impression. (I should mention in the second half of the show, he spent twenty minutes dancing with a popcorn bucket turned upside down on his head. It was one of his “playful” moments and I think he was showing off for the cute girl in our row).
Flash forward to the end of the show – we’re backed up right against both kids’ bedtimes, with a 45 minute drive home. So I drive through McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat. “Mama, Dada went to the french fry playground with me twice”. Oh yes, the reminder that twice in the last six months dada has fulfilled Jake’s ultimate dream of getting to play on the playground at McDonald’s. And a pointed reminder that mama always goes through the drive thru. One would think that based on those comments, my kids get McDonald’s a lot. Not really. If we are out running errands, or at a special event, and we are dangerously close to bedtime, they get it as a treat. That way, their tummies get filled up, and we get home and can settle them into the nappy-nap or nighty-night routine that much quicker. It’s a survival tactic.
Onto Morgan. My little stinker, my crazy two-year old, my girl full of extremes. Yes, Morgan is never the quiet, think-it-through girl. She is reactionary, vocal, persistent. The Sesame Street Live show starts, and Morgan, unexpectedly startled by the giant Big Bird and Elmo five feet from her, jumps in my lap. However, the entire rest of the show is spent standing up, bobbing (with her sassy pigtails bobbing up and down), and dancing. Pointing at Cookie, and yelling “Elmo back” when he disappears from stage.
As a baby, we nicknamed her tornado. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she was always tearing through the house, the toys, and anything else in the way. When she used to try to confirm “yes” to a question before she could talk, she shook her whole body, instead of her head. She was our active, mobile child. We joke that from the day she started walking, she only had one speed – FAST. As she grows older, she has many more titles attributed to her – my favorite and the most consistent being sassy.
At an early age, she knew how to tease. I will never forget her at sixteen months, jumping into my dad’s recliner and saying “my chair”. She knew it was grandpa’s chair. And she created quite the game by claiming it for herself.
She is all about extremes. Either she is happy or extremely unhappy. Active or snuggly. Never in the middle. Jake tends to always be even keeled, and his meltdowns can surprise you from behind. With Morgan, it’s one or the other. There are no surprises. Happy or sad, you are always in the know. But she also knows how to love to the extremes, with cuddles, hugs, and sweet “mamas and dadas” abound.
As a mom, I’ve been surprised at the many differences. But as they continue to grow and become little kids, slowly leaving the baby and toddler days behind, I’ve come to appreciate the differences and recognize that life would be boring if they were the same.