I know as a mom, there is an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t compare your kids. It’s like apples to oranges, right? Yes and no. If all you have known in your parenting history are the actions and behaviors of your firstborn, how can you not apply this knowledge to your second kid?
If you’ve ever read any of my early posts about raising my boys, you know that they both were incredibly stubborn and highly active children. The good news is that while they remain stubborn at their core, they are thankfully a lot more compliant and much more pleasant to live with. These behavior changes came over a period of several years and after lots of hard, consistent disciplinary work from my part. At around the second grade, Full Speed completely transformed. He became a delight to be around. He developed manners and empathy. While he still has spurts of insane, high-energy, they are much easier to handle. Naturally, I thought that once T.Puzzle hit second grade the same would ring true for him. I waited and waited, and then I waited some more. Manners? Nope. Being compliant? Not so much. Having a filter? Not on your life.
His behavior baffled me. I did all the same things I did with Full Speed, so why wasn’t it sinking if for T.Puzzle? After a while I began to realize that, wait a minute, they actually are quite different kids. While Full Speed remained vocal and independent at school, T.Puzzle kept to himself. Full Speed’s confidence certainly won the respect of his teachers, but T.Puzzle’s quiet nature won them over completely. Where Full Speed sometimes didn’t get ‘outstandings’ in conduct, T.Puzzle was bringing them home left and right like nobody’s business. Yet, when he return home from school again, he would be that flip little loose cannon who does not like to be told what to do. At home, this is where Full Speed shined.
Okay, I get it, these guys are opposites in some regards. They have to mix it up to keep me on my toes. I let it go and focused on being grateful that most of the time, away from me, T.Puzzle was a pretty well-behaved kid. Then, it happened. There was this shift in him. He has started to remember his manners more, he does things the first time he’s told with less commentary and he actually offers to share things with others on occasion. I noticed something subtle the other day, too. I snuggled up to him on the couch and instead of me putting my arm around him, he put his arm around me. He even began to absently pat me on the back. Exactly like Full Speed does when he is ‘taking care’ of mom.
To help encourage this new-found growth and maturity, I sent T.Puzzle to his friend’s house by bike. He did so good. He called me when he got there and called me to let me know he was on his way home. When I greeted him by the garage I was so proud of him.
“Mom, my helmet feels weird.”
“Uh, that’s because you are wearing it backwards.”
It’s not a perfect system, folks. Not by a long shot.