Individuality is important, as is recognizing it, especially in children. This is something I’ve always known, but today it smacked me in the face.
I am a mother of two wonderfully different children. Some of these differences are obvious to everyone without explanation. My children are roughly four and a half years apart. My oldest is a girl, and my youngest is a boy. From there the differences become more interesting, requiring keen observation to really get a grasp of.
When my daughter was two and a half she was an only child. I’d take her places to play and explore the world. Her preference would be to find the nearest child. My son, not so much. Today I took him to the Children’s Museum. He was fighting me to get in as I was paying for our tickets, and I thought, Wow, he sure wants to play with those kids making all that noise. Once I let him go, following along, I discovered that he had other plans.
We ran around the complex with him looking here and there, but not really stopping. I figured he was just deciding what looked good first, but after he’d seen everything on the quick tour he made a beeline for the exit. The receptionist looked at us, startled. It had only been 10 minutes. I coaxed him back in and tried to interest him in various activities. The Market looked like it had promise as he finally poked his head in and really looked, but as soon as he discovered the food was all fake and didn’t bounce worth the plastic it was made with his interest was gone.
By the fifth visit to the exit door I had to admit that he was just done. The receptionist was very gracious and offered us a pass to come back, we’d only been there for 45 minutes. She shook her head at my little guy and said, “That’s a first. I’ve never seen a kid so anxious to get in and then want to leave so quickly.” I smiled, shrugged my shoulders and thanked her for the passes. But as I strapped my son into his car seat, which he was very happy to get into, I started thinking.
My daughter would kick up a fuss if I ended a play session in so short a time at a place with more toys than we will ever have in our house. This revelation almost shocked me. I started thinking about what my son had done in the museum. Pretty much, he had only wanted to go where there were no other kids, and as soon as one appeared it was time to move on.
I’m sure there will be more differences as my children grow, and as they do I must remember to honor their differences. There is only one of me, but some of what they will need from me will be different. They are distinctly different in more ways than age and gender. What they will both require of me in equal measure is my strength, support, understanding, and my love.