One thing I love about having four children is being able to compare and contrast their personalities. It was an enormous relief to me when my second baby was born being completely different than her older brother. He had been such a difficult, attention-needing, intense baby that I had seriously begun to wonder whether he was that way because of something I was doing wrong. Then along came Miss L, the complete antithesis to the screaming, colicky, unpredictable baby her brother had been. She was a sunny, easily pleased, predictable and mellow little personality who occupied herself very happily wherever we were, which was lucky, because I was still having to spend all my waking attention on demanding Number One.
By the time Miss L hit her toddler years, things changed. We went through a rocky patch when her Very Intense Need to Declare Herself as an Individual was acted out with or without external provocation. Like the time we were leaving the house and she insisted that she wanted those particular pocketless pants to have pockets. Or she wanted her favorite hat to be a different color. Or any variation on this theme:
Her: I THIRSTY!!
Me: Okay, would you like some juice or some milk?
Her: NO JUICE!
Me: Okay, milk then?
Her: NO MILK!
Me: All we have is milk or juice. Or water. Would you like some water?
Her: NO WATER!! NO JUICE!! NO MILK!!!!
Her: I THIRSTY!! I NO WANNA DRINK!!
Me: er…okay, well….here’s a cup; tell me when you want something to drink.
Her: I THIRSTY!! I THIRSTY!
Me: So, milk, water, or juice?
Her: Flinging the cup, beginning of flailing tantrum.
Me: Walking away.
Her: Following me.
Luckily, by that time, older brother had transformed into a lovely, reasonable and calm preschooler, baby #3 only needed to be fed and changed to be happy, and I was a seasoned enough parent to realize that none of any of it had much to do with me. Which is why by the time baby #4 was born needing to be held 24-hours a day, I did so without once worrying that I was going to create an over-dependency.
Now I have two daughters very similar in personality and interests, and two sons very similar in interests but quite different in terms of personality.
I still find it endlessly fascinating to watch them make their way in the world, to see how they react to things. Fascinating and sometimes, a bit boggling.Who, at 13.5, would choose to walk on her hands on the way home from having hot chocolate at the coffee shop? The older sister of the girl who totally gets why someone would want to do that, I guess.