We only have two children, but it is pretty clear that they are not the same. They have some distinct differences, but at the same time there are also a number of similarities between the two of them. While I understand that reality, sometimes it is hard not to focus too much on what makes them alike or different.
Sometime it can seem like the differences between our kids are made into a negative thing. I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago and during the haircut we were talking about what I did. After saying that I stayed home with the kids, the hairdresser eventually asked me if I had a favorite kid. I responded that I didn’t and that they can both be adorable and both be incredibly frustrating. They both have their pluses and minuses.
I often wonder if the idea of a favorite comes in because we ultimately want all of our kids to be just like that one. We want all of our kids to be the quiet well-behaved one; the outgoing and athletic one; or whatever combination of traits we like in one of our kids. We want them to be similar and so we try to force them into those roles that they just don’t fit into.
Trying to focus on making each child completely different may seem like a better idea, but I’m not sure it is. Mainly just because I think it requires ignoring the ways that they are the same. It doesn’t acknowledge common ground and the things they have in common which can be part of their relationship as they get older. I don’t really want my kids to think they’re completely different from each other and lack that common ground. Of course I don’t want them to think that they’re just carbon copies either.
I want to be able to see them for who they are; both in the ways that they are similar and the ways they are different. I don’t want them to be exactly the same, but I do want them to be able to have common ground and even common interests that may connect them as they grow up. At the same time I want our kids to be able to feel that their interests and personality are part of who they are. They don’t both have to like the same things, do things the exact same way, or have the same personality.
This can be a challenge. I mean our kids have been quite different. For example, Ryan as a baby and toddler did not get into much trouble. He never really pulled things off of shelves. If he ever did, all we needed to do was tell him no and he wouldn’t again. Anastasia on the other hand was not quite that way. She wasn’t to the point of making a gigantic mess by getting into flour or anything like that, but she would and still does grab anything she thinks she can have.
However, they are also very similar too. I mean there have been times that Anastasia has reacted in a very similar way to how Ryan acted when he was her age. They are both empathic little kiddos. They both love books and can spend a long time either looking at books themselves or being read to. They both love building with the big Duplo blocks and enjoy coloring although I’d say that they’ve influenced each other in these activities.
Maybe it is just easy to appreciate the similarities and differences when they’re this young. I don’t know, but I hope that I will be able to enjoy the similarities and differences in our kids both now and as they get older. To be able to acknowledge them as their own unique individuals, but also appreciate the places where you see that they are very much alike. We’ll just have to see how that goes as they continue to get older.