To Each His Own

May 19, 2013 by Michelle

FL2W disclosure

I know you can’t compare kids.  Every child is different and blah blah blah.  But as parents we still do, not because we want to compare good/bad better/worse and so forth but because our only measuring stick of what is “normal” is our other children.  I’m guilty of it all the time, and I know I’m not alone.

But my children are so different.  They have such different personalities and strengths and interests.  I witnessed it the past two days when we went through their rooms and evaluated every single non-clothing item to see if it is a keep or a go.

Mister Man would get involved in what he was looking at and forget the cleaning or the next item or why we were in his room.  He simply focused on the moment, and the rest of the world disappeared.  When evaluating items, for the most part he was sure whether he’d outgrown it or not and if it was too babyish, it was gone.  The small “junk” items (oh birthday goodie bags, how I hate you) were more of a challenge, but I finally hit the jackpot when I started asking him how long it would take him to forget about an item.  There was a large pile of items exiting his room, calmly and methodically.

Little Miss was more of a challenge.  Her room is simply covered and filled with two things.  Her main obsession is Puffles and Puffle-related items she’s created from a disco palace to Halloween costumes to picture frames and more.  She’s a tad bit over the moon for her Puffles, but she plays with them and their accoutrements daily.  And then we have the stuffed animals.  Last night she couldn’t fall asleep because she had all her stuffed animals on her full size bed and couldn’t find anywhere to sleep.  The pile was three feet high.  Many are ones she never plays with, so we spent time going through those trying to weed down the pack.  After awhile of trying to find ones that can go away, I looked at her.  Little Miss, are you trying not to cry? I asked, noticing her pinched expression and glassy eyes.  That was all it took to burst into tears.

She has such a hard time letting go of anything that once upon a time meant anything to her.  I tried to explain that certain stuffed animals like Snowy who was her first best friend will always stick around.  I pointed to the Bugs Bunny she had sitting in her room that was mine from when I was about two years old for an example.  I reminded her that I wasn’t forcing her to get rid of any she said she wanted to keep and that she was making the choice.  But the hysterical tears continued, so we took a break.  When we made it back upstairs to finish going through her room, I noticed that many of the animals that had been in the  go pile were once again atop her bed.  But the tears at least stopped.

And that’s just one example.  I was thinking about it later this afternoon and realized that I don’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.  Mister Man has stated very clearly since he was four years old that he wants to be a paleontologist.  He knows more about dinosaurs that I ever did – or cared to.  And almost six years later, he has yet to waver in his determination, although he is also now considering being a Lego Master Builder and has been for the past couple years.  He’s pretty sure he can somehow do both.

Mister Man with his dinos

Regardless, he decided on a career early.  Even in preschool, he told us he wanted to be a special needs math preschool teacher.  He’s always had a goal, regardless of what direction he’s heading.  Little Miss is far more of a fly by the seat of your pants girl, and I’d never heard her talk about what she wants to be.  So I asked her.

And she looked at me blankly. I don’t know, she finally declared.  That’s ok, I reassured her.  You have plenty of years to figure it out.  Is there anything where you’ve ever heard about a job and thought “Wow! That’s cool.  That’s what I want to do someday!” or even just really liked it?  She shook her head.

After gently poking and prodding a little to make sure I wasn’t missing anything but doing my best not to make her freak out that she didn’t have a career goal in mind at the age of seven, I realized that this is just another aspect of how Little Miss truly is different from her brother.  She’s just flying through life and will figure things out later.

Little girl in a box

Knowing both of them, they’ll be successful at whatever they end up choosing.  They know themselves well, and they have very determined personalities with a lot of strengths that will serve them well.  But yet they are so different in so many ways.  And someday, when I proudly receive a call from one child updating me on the life of the first ever paleontologist Lego Master Builder and another sharing her exploits doing goodness knows what, I won’t be surprised.

What did you want to be when you were little?

This month’s book for From Left to Write was A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.


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  • Bay @Queen Mother Blog

    My daughter is the same way with the bed. Stuffed animals AND books. Also terrible about throwing things away 😉

    I wanted to be a waitress and a ballerina when I was little. Possibly even a ballerina waitress. What did YOU want to be?

    • Michelle

      Oh don’t get me started on books. We went through books two weeks ago, and our bookshelf is still overfull. And some are baby books that they never ever would read. I keep pointing out that if they make a mistake, there’s always the library, but….

      I wanted to be a vet. And a teacher. And I think a firefighter. And then a psychiatrist. I ended up doing none of them!

  • Thien-Kim

    My daughter used to be like that with her toys as well. We live in a 2 BR apartment and don’t have room for a lot of toys. I try to implement the one in and one out rule, but have been lax about it. I completely understand.

    • Michelle

      I love the one in one out rule, but we’re unfortunately way past that right now. We have a lot of flat out purging that needs to happen first!

  • Julie

    I so understand what you are saying about the “normal” measuring stick. My children are all very different, and I know perfectly well that it’s not fair to compare them to each other, and I still do it. I have not actually said out loud, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” but heaven help me, I have thought that from time to time!

    • Michelle

      No, I’ve never said the “why can’t you be like…” but it’s tempting sometimes. On the plus side, they get along great, so I can’t complain. The comparisons are definitely out there because how else do you know what “normal” is?

  • Jackie

    My youngest daughter is a pack rat! OMG… the stuff that she insists on keeping is amazing. Every so often I have to force her to go through her things just so we can see her room again. Her older sister on the other hand keeps nothing that she doesn’t actually need and if it’s something important then it’s packed away.

    • Michelle

      I’m impressed that you have one who doesn’t keep things. That’s so unusual in a child – but really nice for you, I bet! Three friends and I went through both the wee ones’ rooms and removed things for 10 man hours a month or so ago, and you would never have known that we’d done anything given the states of their rooms. My goal is to keep it from getting like that again – but it’s a constant battle!

  • Pat

    After someone complimented a picture I had drawn when I was about 7, I wanted to be an artist. That didn’t pan out when I realized that I didn’t really have artistic talent. Then I wanted to be a nurse, and later I wanted to be a physicist and work for Jet Propulsion Lab. When I fainted at the sight of blood one too many times, I realized that nursing was out. I ended up being a high school math teacher.

    My sons all had a hard time getting rid of any of their stuff. Now, in my senior years, it’s easy for me to get rid of stuff. I am SO not sentimental. My husband is the pack rat.

    When Jerry and I die, I don’t want our kids to have tons of our junk to go through and mostly throw away.

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