Thursday, June 19, 2008

Different But the Same

How is it that two children borne of the same parents, with the same essential genetic makeup, can be so very different? Night and day may be a cliché, but if the cliché fits....

This morning in the wee, wee hours, Beckett awoke in tears, gums aching with the pain of sharp new baby teeth poking through their delicate surface. At 2 a.m. I was in his room, giving him Tylenol and a bottle. He had already awoken at 12:15 screaming with what we thought at the time was a nightmare. Scott brought him into our bed where he cuddled sleepily, chewing the tail of his beloved puppy dawg and giving us the sweetest smiles. When he seemed sleepy enough I put him back in his crib and he settled in cuddling his doggie.

Just as I was drifting off while watching Conan interview a stripper bellydancer, I was snapped back to the here and now with more screaming. This time, I went in and just tried stroking his hair and he settled down, until I walked out his door to go back to bed. I thought, "He always puts himself back to sleep, so I'll just let him cry it out and he'll be fine." Ha!

He cried for over 10 min. and I couldn't take it. Even burying my head couldn't help me escape. This is entirely unusual for Beckett who has been an excellent sleeper from day one. So, I ended up, back in Beck's room. This time I brought the big guns. Tylenol. A bottle. And cuddly time.

I lifted him from the crib and we settled in the cozy blue velvet chair in his room where we sit to read before his nap every day. I just cradled him in my arms and stroked his hair and forehead while he smiled sleepily up at me and played with my face. He talked softly to him and massaged his jaw and cheekbones. Before long he was very relaxed and starting to drift off so I put him back into his bed where he settled in peacefully and was asleep almost instantly.

With Brendan, I would have been up until 5 a.m. He would never let me sit and cuddle him and ease him back into sleep. He would have screamed at the top of his lungs the entire time, taking the bottle, but batting away the Tylenol. Instead of sitting quietly and rocking, I would have had to pace the floor until I was ready to drop. Each time he quieted and I would try to sit with him or place him back into his crib, he would start screaming again. And this would repeat until I finally just gave up and put him down on the floor with some toys, lying down beside him, and praying he would wear himself out quickly.

And this went on for three years, more or less.

Why are they so different?

There are many other ways.

By this age, Brendan was playing much more independently. He was taller and thinner. Their interests, too, were very different. Brendan has always noticed details. From the time he was six months old he would look up at the sky and point out airplanes, helicopters, birds, and bugs. He would pick flowers and give them to me and point at any little thing that caught his eye and want us to tell him what it was. And he's still like that today.

Beckett could walk past an airplane parked in the driveway and not notice it I think. He's much more about the experience of things. He's very physical and wants to climb on everything, including you.

I'm just constantly amazed at how different two members of the same family can be, especially siblings. Still, they are alike in one very important way.... They both exhibit a very great capacity to show love and joy. They both love each other very much and have fun together. So for now, their differences don't really matter.

They just fascinate me. And sometimes I wonder if it's that they are so very different or if it's me who's changed.

So, I'd love to know if you see major differences in your children. Are you and your siblings different? How did those differences affect your relationship? Did your parents try to make you or your siblings more like one another or compare you?


Kel said...

Ah yes, teething days (I'm there now). As for siblings, my sister and I were/still are total opposites. Luckily my parents didn't try to make us be like each other. My girls are 6 years apart, but even at this stage I can tell they are not the same, I often wonder if it is me who's changed.

Thanks for stopping by yesterday! Have a great one!

Just Me said...

My children are very different, my daughter cried, which what seemed like, the whole time she was a baby while my son did not. My daughter was so much calmer at every age than my son. He is just a bundle of energy. She was an easier child to handle and was much more independent. I had to readjust my parenting with my son because he was so different from my daughter. I expected them to be similar but they are very different. I think some of it may be me. I don't have the same amount of patience as I did with my daughter since I have the two of them and I think I do more things for my son than I did for my daughter so I think he is become independent at a later age than her, i.e. he is tying his shoes at a later age, he dressed himself at a later age, things like that. But the main things that they are the same about is that they are both sweet children:) My brother and I are different in some ways but nothing that has caused a conflict. My parents have never compared us. They have always looked at us as individuals and I know that they present things to us in different ways because they understand who we are and don't try to make us the same or pit us against each other.

Anonymous said...

Mine are very different and I think I've been different with each of them, too.

Since my kids are so much older now, I notice that I have special, separate memories of each of them and those memories seem to track with how different they are.

My mother-in-law had six (imagine!) and she treated each of them as true individuals. I didn't appreciate while she was alive, but I do now.

Wendy said...

I was one of three and we're all very different. My parents were great about treating each of us as individuals and not comparing one to the other, and they took special time to spend with each of us alone. As the oldest and only girl, I got some special treatment from my dad, but he adores my brothers and has great relationships with them as well. He's just always been willing to cut me more slack than he cuts them.

We're thinking about having another baby and it's so weird to comprehend. Zeke seems so perfect to me -- how could we possibly improve on him? What if the next kid is a jerk??

Dawn said...

Excellent feedback. Thank you all for sharing your sibling experiences. As an only child, I've been surprised by all the things I realize I have to consider in the sibling dynamic.

They get along well and show genuine affection for one another, but lately Beckett has started to show some signs of being jealous of his brother. If Brendan sits in my lap, Beckett runs over and tries to push him off. But Brendan doesn't really seem jealous at all. He does directly tell me that I'm not paying enough attention to him, but I think he competes more with housework and my writing/marketing work in his mind.

Wendy, I kind of felt the same way, but because I was an only child and often lonely (especially as an adult), I really wanted Brendan to have a sibling. Still, he was such a challenging baby with regard to sleep and his strong will, that it took us 3 years to decide we could do it. I'm so, so happy we did.

Beckett is Brendan's complete opposite when it comes to sleep and disposition so it was very easy to add him to our family.

I know we have no control over that sort of thing so I feel like we were very blessed. I joke all the time that God knew I needed a very easy baby this time.