Tuesday, May 9, 2006

These are SOOOO my children!

SiSi, my 4 year-old, has just moved up in bicycle sizes, and is putting mileage on those little tires! She still gets a little paralyzed going down hills (damn near went out of control when she forgot about the brakes), but she really likes being able to ride. Ditto the swimming in the pool. Ditto the running and jumping and playing soccer… Contrast this with NiNi, my 2 year-old, who will walk downtown (¾ mile) with me, but is quite content to dig in the garden, play with her babies and generally be domestic. I’ll let you figure out which child takes after which parent.

I find it incredibly interesting just how different my children are. SiSi is passionate, dramatic, active. She likes little bits of lots of things (food, activites, conversations) and thrives on being in control. She’s a jeans and t-shirt girl. She feels things and emotional level and puts up masks and diversions to protect her core (and quite fragile) self. She is compelled to sing EVERYWHERE and is driven to investigate, but not necessarily to interact with, her environment.

NiNi is passionate, but not dramatic. Her emotions run deep and are expressed deeply, and from her core self. She is active, but not sportive as such (though this may just be because she’s so young). She likes one thing a lot, and will often focus on it to the distraction of everything else around her (“Hello? NiNi? Can you hear me?”). She’s wears dresses most of the time. She feels things on a personal level and spends a lot of time looking for and modeling relationships (playing with her babies, being close to mama and papa). She is very into reading right now and loves to talk with people. She is less inclined to investigate her world, but more inclined to interact with it (although she has discovered shyness around some people now).

The thing that cracks me up about them is not that they are intrinsically so opposite in so many ways, but that they work to maintain their differentness when they’re together. They are not competitive about it, but they enjoy the fact that they are distinct from each other and will often give each other the space to be distinct when they know it is important. If one picks A, the other will almost invariable pick B. That’s not to say that there isn’t conflict when they both want the same thing, but I am impressed that they will often avoid banging heads over things simply because they appreciate their differences.

I enjoy watching them interact as opposites, but I have fun with it, too. It is an interesting exercise to tell them that they can select from two choices (this food for lunch or that one, going to this place or that, etc.) but that we will only do one and they must come to consensus on their own. When they get older and really master the art of negotiation, look out! It’ll be like congress at budget time!

S told me some time ago that she and her husband each have one of their children that they connect with more closely than the other. I remember thinking at the time that this was curious because, while my children are almost exact opposites in most ways, Wifeness and I had not experienced that splitting. It looks like this is beginning to happen now. I have a much higher tolerance for the eccentricities of my older daughter than Wifeness. I love NiNi to distraction, but there are times when she drives me absolutely meshuggeneh. For Wifeness, the opposite is true. I think this development in our family dynamic has reinforced for me the importance of giving lots of love and attention to both my girls, and of finding ways to connect and bond with them both that celebrate and nurture their unique, individual spirits. They are certainly unique, but they are both amazing!


Singing Duck said...

Trust me, you have no clues as to what those two girls are going to be like as 10 year-olds, much less as adults. We watched two boy children through their early years and if we could have done so would have bet big money on who they would be when they reached different ages. In some few cases we were close. In no case did we hit the nail square on the head...though we did occassionally hit the two boys on the head because they didn't add up to what we thought they should on a daily basis. In adulthood are they exact opposites to what they were at the ages of your two? Pretty close. Close enough to opposite so that I'm very glad I didn't bet any money on my expectations. Are they both good people? Yes, they truly are. One eats too much ice cream and one doesn't communicate well long distance, but hey, how big a deal is that?!

Mrs.Chili said...

You know what, though? For me, it was a deeply spiritual thing. The nurses handed me PunkinPie, and I said "WOW! Would you just LOOK at this gorgeous, amazing creature!" They handed me Beanie and I said "OH! It's YOU!" I just KNOW this child - she and I have been together before and we just fell into step as though we'd never been apart.

That is not to say that I love PunkinPie less than I love Beanie, though. PP called me on it once when she was about four: "Mommy," she complained, "you love Beanie more than me."

"No, I don't," I explained, "I love you the same, but different."


So I went to the pantry and got out a couple of cans of tuna. One Starkist, one Chicken of the Sea (or something like that). Same size, same contents, different labels, and I asked her, "are these the same?"


"Are you sure, sure, sure? Look - they both say 'solid white tuna', right?"


"And they both have 10.5 ounces in them, and they're both packed in water, right?"


"So are they the same?" At this point, she was starting to get where I was going.

"OH!" she says, "They're the SAME, but DIFFERENT!"

Exactly. And now, whenever PunkinPie is feeling left out of that connection that Beanie and I have, all I have to say is "I love you like tuna" and she feels better, because it's true.

Wayfarer said...

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how my girls change as they get older, and I know better than to try and predict how they'll turn out. In truth, really I don't want to know. It would sort of ruin the surprise.

I have the conversation about loving equally a lot more with my students than with my kids right now. I tell my students all the time, "Have I told you you're my FAVORITE student?" They, of course, say, "Pfft! You say that to all of your students!" and then they accuse me of being a liar. It takes some time to explain (and be understood) that the term "favorite" need not be considered an exclusive term. It can be used inclusively, as well. I can't tell them I love them (well, I do, but that carries its own caveats), but the concept is the same. They don't get it at first, either, but the positive effect is unequivocal, whether they do or not.