By the time he was three, it was obvious he preferred pretend games. He loved action figures, transformers, trains, anything where he could create a little world for his ‘guys’ and their vehicles. This bored me to tears, although I’d gamely sit down and try to play along. (My dad was much better at this!)
By the time Paige came along, when Eric was four, I was so used to not bothering with any kind of craft or painting activity that it took me a while to realize she might actually like it. By the time I started her on crafts, she was old enough to just want to do it herself.
Crafty Paige – “Thanks mom, I’ll do this myself!”
Same with books – I envisioned sitting with her and introducing her to Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was old enough. That day came, I brought out the books I’d saved from my childhood…and Paige was not interested. “Eh, they’re kind of boring,” she said, as she turned back to the books she preferred (on animals and babysitting). I couldn’t believe it! How could neither of my kids enjoy Laura, or A Wrinkle in Time?! It was just another lesson for me – they aren’t me. They each had their own interests, separate from me.
I know my own mom must have seen this with me – I was quiet and shy, while my mom was outgoing and the life of the party. I preferred to stay alone in my room, reading, while she implored me to give friends a call to see if they wanted to hang out, or go to parties, or anything to get me out of the house. I would spend hours writing letters to pen pals or just listening to music in my room. I know she probably thought I was sad and lonely, because I imagine she would have felt that way if she was alone as much as I was as a kid. But I liked it – I’m really an introvert, and it exhausts me to be around big groups of people after a while. We were just different. When I was a kid, I kind of felt bad, like I wasn’t the type of daughter my mom wanted. Now that I’ve grown up and had my own kids, I can completely see where she was coming from. It just takes a while to realize that these little people you created will grow up and be so separate from you, with totally different personalities and interests.
So now I just try to enjoy my two very different, very individual children for the people they are. They introduce me to new interests, and they tolerate me when I slip up and forget they aren’t younger versions of me. (No more scrunching, Paige — I promise!)
My all-grown-up, very individual kids