Sunday, April 3, 2011

The same, yet different.

As the mother of two kids, I can't help but compare and contrast their personalities often. Wednesday night was a great example of the ways these two are similar, but quite different.  We went to the mall so the kids could play and I could do a little shopping for Jason.  In the play area, there are a bunch of cool things to climb on and slide down, such as a mountain, rocks with an octopus on it, a ferry, and a few orca whales.  The kids immediately took to them and played around.  Jilly was especially adept and climbing up and down by herself (woohoo!).  Jason still needed help, but was pretty good for being smaller than most of the kids there.  We've been taking them to play at parks lately, so they've been getting practice at that type of stuff.  But there is one behavior we can't seem to get Jason to stop.

Like most kids his age, he hangs out right at the bottom of the slide, where he's either in the way of the kids coming down or he gets knocked over by them.  I don't fault any kid that comes down the slide and knocks him over; it's his own fault, because we repeatedly tell him to move and physically move him.  He persists nonetheless.  In fact, he tries to climb up the slide from the bottom.  Again, I know it's pretty typical of kids his age, but it drives me batty nonetheless.  So last night, he was doing that again, even after he figured out how to climb up to the top of the slide himself.  We would pick him up and move him to the side so he could climb up, he'd climb, turn himself and slide down, giggling hysterically as he hits the floor, then would look at us and try to climb up the slide!  Every single time we'd tell him "No, Jason.  You can't climb up the bottom of the slide; you need to go around," and we'd motion with our hands.  His response?  To smile at us and, while maintaining eye contact, try to climb up the bottom.  So every time we had to physically pick him up and move him to where he could climb again.  The cycle repeated itself for 30+ minutes, with both Steve and me taking turns moving him.

Here is where Jilly is different.  She is usually pretty good about not climbing up the bottom, but once in awhile she'd forget and try it.  We could call across the play area and tell her to go around.  As long as she heard us (sometimes we'd have to call her name a couple times to get her attention), she would immediately respond and run around to the correct side.

The difference here is pretty indicative of how these two work most often.  There certainly is something to be said for their age difference.  At 4 years old, Jilly definitely is more mature and able to process and respond to verbal instructions much better than 21-month-old Jason.  I totally get that.  But I think it has more to do with their personalities than anything.  We don't get a lot of willful, intentional disobedience from Jilly.  Certainly, she has her moments, but most often if she is doing something she shouldn't be, it's because she got busy and forgot and as soon as we verbally correct her, she'll stop.  Jason on the other hand, will make eye contact with us, hear us tell him not to do something, then smile and do it anyway!  While looking at us straight in the face and laughing!  The little turkey!  And of course, he does it with such charm you can't help but giggle with him.

You could certainly ascribe this behavior to the difference in their ages and sure, that is part of it.  But when you really watch these two, you see the personality differences.  I would definitely describe both of our kids as charming, but they are very different forms of charming.  From a very young age, nay, I'd say since birth, Jilly has been able to charm people into loving her.  Being around Jilly just brings joy into your life.  If she's in a good mood (which is 80% of the time), you can't stay grumpy around her.  She is just Joy embodied, smiling, laughing, giggling, being goofy, etc.  However, her charm isn't an intentional thing.  It's just how she is and it infects those around her.  It's a very cherubic, innocent, child-like charm.  Jason is also incredibly charming, but he knows it.  He has this twinkle in his eye and he uses it.  Like I said earlier, he looks you in the eye and makes sure you're watching him when he does something (both good & bad things), all the while flashing his charming grin and twinkling, mischievous eyes. He charms you because he wants to, and it's a more adult, intentional charm.  I just hope as he gets older he uses that charm for good and not selfish manipulation.  Jilly cannot tell an intentional lie (at least not yet), she just doesn't think to lie.  While Jason doesn't have enough words to outright lie yet, I can tell with the way he uses his words that it's not that long until he starts using them to manipulate and if not outright lie, at least spin things for his benefit.

These two little monkeys keep us on our toe, for sure!!  The older they get, the more their personalities come out, the more you see how they work with and against each other.  It's rather fascinating to watch their dynamic.  I love watching them do a lot of the same things, yet they each have their own spin on it. And come on, they're just the freaking cutest things EVER!  :-D

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