As the boys approach their birthdays in the next 2 months, Sarah and I have been talking more regularly about just how different Brandon and Adam’s personalities are becoming as they continue to develop. This whole “nature versus nurture” thing has got nothing on our 2 boys. Sometimes I wonder if they’re even being raised in the same household.

Their love for each other is amazing to watch, but their differences are immense and sometimes puzzling as a parent trying to figure this all out. It’s not surprising they have different preferences from food to TV shows or even what to wear as they are 3 1/2 years apart in age. But it’s how they express those differences that’s so radically different. How they try different foods, if they even try those foods at all, is just one small example. Where Adam wants to try everything, Brandon barely gives new things the sniff test before sticking his tongue out and shaking his head to reject.

I never expected we’d have 2 children who were the same. And variety is the spice of life. But right now we have Brandon who heavily internalizes everything. He’s a soulful, thoughtful processor. Meanwhile Adam is literally bouncing off walls, talking and singing to himself and using jazz hands while simultaneously watching himself in the mirror as he brushes his teeth to see what his facial expressions look like in the reflection.

So we’ve come to realize the way we parent Brandon and Adam also has to be different. They hear us differently. They have different coping skills, and not just because of their ages. And they react far differently from each other. What worked when Brandon was 3, does not work for Adam now. For us and them, it’s a daily learning experience through trial and errors.

Adam already knows that words are just idle if not backed up. He tests all the warnings until you are exasperated with what to do next. He needs more firm consistency because he’ll push things as far as he can. He openly challenges us, flaunting what he’s done and waiting for us to do something about it. He’s animated when he speaks to accentuate his statements, using different tones and inflections to make his points. He’s so expressive when he explains things that sometimes we catch ourselves laughing because as his words continue to explode, his personality comes even more to light.

Brandon is more of a rule follower. He doesn’t like when people break the rules but likes even less when he gets caught breaking the rules himself. Instead of owning up to it, he does what many children try to do and hide things so he doesn’t get caught or in “trouble,” but then when he does get caught he gets upset and embarrassed. He’s more thoughtful and deliberate, really cares about others, wonders regularly how people are doing and wants the people around him to be happy. But at the same time, he can be a bit conniving himself. While he needs more compassion and wants to feel like there is an open forum for him to communicate his feelings, he instigates as much as his little brother (he just thinks we don’t notice). 

When Adam gets upset about something, he moves on quickly. Brandon will remind us days or weeks later about something that previously happened saying “he’s still upset about” whatever is bugging him. His emotional process takes longer, which we have to be aware of so he doesn’t deflect from whatever is going on in the moment with things that have happened in the past.

Together, they cover the entire spectrum of emotions and reactions, often in the same situation. Sometimes we brace ourselves daily for what’s next because it’s sure to be an adventure. Yet no matter how different they are or challenging it seems at times, we wouldn’t change it for a second. Because when the noise stops, we’ve got lots of love together, even if everyone needs it shown in their own special way.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer

 

January 2024
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