I have two kids. They are lovely. Well most of the time they are lovely. While I knew going into it that children are different, I don’t really think that is something you can really grasp the concept of until you have more than one child and you EXPERIENCE how different two children with the same parents can be. And in our case I’d say it’s pretty much night and day.
Let’s start easy: one’s a boy and one’s a girl. That’s an obvious opposite, sorry. 🙂 He’s an introvert, she’s an extrovert. I mean MAJOR extrovert–one of those makes-friends-with-a whole-room-of-people-in-five-minutes kind of extrovert. He’s tall, she’s short. Ok, sorry, that’s another stretch and not really a far difference because he is twice her age. But then there’s temperament: he’s easy-going, a rule follower, can adjust to disappointment and change fairly easily and is likely to do the right thing because it’s the thing to do. She is strong-willed. I’m learning that baby girl is pretty much a my-way-or-the-highway kind of kid. She argues facts that are right there plain as day just because she wants to (although I guess it’s fair to say that her brother often will start or continue many of these arguments….). Her answer to many things is “I just don’t want to,” and when you give her a choice between two things her response is usually a very spirited “no.” Yep, no. What the heck?
Here’s a quick example of their complete “oppositeness,” which happened at the dentist yesterday:
And so I am learning (like I mentioned in the beginning) that my children are very different, even though they have much in common. And with that comes learning that I cannot deal with or teach or discipline them in the same way. What worked for one more certainly does NOT work for the other. In many ways I feel like a new parent again. And in many ways I am–I have never parented this second kiddo before. She is new to me. I am relearning how to be a “successful” parent to this little princess of mine, discovering new tips, strategies and techniques that work for both her and me (because yes, I’d like for us both to survive through the teen years!).
You know what? That same thing applies in the classroom! I was a teacher long before I was a parent, but I love how having littles of my own at home helps me more clearly see and understand what I maybe only partly grasped as a teacher previously. It’s kind of a “duh” thing, I guess–I would never expect two kiddos in my class to be identical, nor would I expect exactly the same thing to work for every single kid every single year. I am not that teacher who plans the whole year in the summer (using the same plans as last year, no less), and then presses “play” and glides through the school year doing the same ‘ole same ‘ole. I acknowledge the fact that a new bunch of learners requires a new bag of tricks and a restocked toolbox ready and waiting to be used at the right time and place. And the same is true with kids at home. Weird how that works, huh?
So I guess this means I have some more learning to do. So far I’ve learned that my sweet, sweet darling child is a spunky, spicy, chatty, curious, creative, princess-loving, always-smiling-except-when-she’s-scowling, always-dancing girl who loves her brother and family, loves to sing, loves to laugh and really just wants to figure out how things work, find the answers to her questions and eat mac and cheese for every meal. Why would I want her to be anything else? But with that acceptance, I have to figure out how to best teach such a learner in a way that makes sense to her, offers both of us success and preserves her dignity. THAT, it seems so far, is easier said that done. Any advice? I’ll gladly take it. We’ve got a long road ahead of us (which I will gladly travel with her, by the way. 🙂 ). I guess for now I’ll go dig out my copy of The Strong-Willed Child…. 🙂