One of the things that I find amazing about being the mom of two kids is how uniquely wonderful each child is and in our case I don't think that we could have two that were any more opposite. Cady has always had an intensity and a joy for life that leaves her wondering what is around the next corner. Coben's joy is in the everyday things and he's willing to go wherever the tides take him. If Cady is fire, Coben is water.
For example, Cady came out of the womb screaming. The nurses at the hospital offered no help whatsoever and we didn't even know that there was anything unusual about her screaming for hours at a time instead of sleeping until the nurse commented at check-out, "oh you were the ones in the room with the baby that cried the whole time." Oh? They aren't supposed to do that? The first few months were difficult so in preparation for Coben's arrival we asked Mimi to come stay for a week so that we would have some help this time around. The kid did nothing but sleep the entire time that Mimi was here and the real help ended up being the time that was spent allowing Cady to run and play and not be cooped up with a baby those first few days.
Cady loves to be outdoors and has unlimited energy. Indoor toys have never inspired her and without the ability to run and play she becomes bored rather quickly. She thrives and flourishes on family visits and loves to be around those who love her. Coben on the other hand can push a car around the house for hours going, "vroom vroom" or make tower blocks and crash them over and over. Family visits are okay. Yes, there are extra people around who love him and that he gets a kick out of spending time with but it doesn't absolutely knock his socks off the way it does for Cady.
Cady functions best with rules. She likes to know what the rules are, she likes to make sure everyone knows the rules and she helps enforce the rules for those that aren't following them. When she gets in trouble it is typically for doing things impulsively that fall into the not a good idea spectrum but she has never really tested the limits of time-out and to this day if we count to three she has never allowed us to get to three to see what happens. Rules help her regulate because she is not as systematic as others and it's really lovely because we have been able to tell Cady, "that's just the rules" when she questions something and she is wholly satisfied. Coben on the other hand functions with his own set of rules and all those other ones are just optional. Things have to be a certain way and since I am not a person that is very careful about doing things to completion or in a certain order (Hellooo! Mother of Cady here) he often corrects me. The shopping cart must go back in the corral (I almost always do this but sometimes it's really far and ice cream melting in the hot car is a bigger concern), not wiping off the cart handle because the store is out of clorox wipes can provoke a full-blown melt-down, his pillow has to be turned-over so the picture is facing up. BUT if the rules are the big gnarly PARENT rules it's a whole new ball game. Pushing his sister's buttons (which I must say is NOT hard to do) far outweighs any consequence, time-outs are for escaping and laughing, and I have NO doubt that our parenting skills will be called out in the near future when we count to three, actually hit three, and aren't sure what to do about it.
Another interesting diference is the way that Cady loves to hoard things. Remember the hoarding corner? http://krumpledcady.blogspot.com/2007/07/hoarding-corner.html That has long ago evolved into her entire room being the Hoarding Headquarters. I'm amazed at what she collects. Packets of sugar from a restaurant, the green twisty things from the produce section of the grocery store, the clips that close the bread and keep it from getting stale, rocks, shells, twigs, buttons, stickers, ticket stubs, and anything that can fit in her pocket. In fact, we were at the grocery store earlier using the self check-out and I turn around to see that she has swiped several plastic grocery bags. I put my foot down on that one and had her return them since we have at least 100 of them stuffed under our sink already only to be confronted a short time later in the car by some tree flowers and a white rock that she had smuggled from the parking lot. When I questioned her about it in the car she told me with total and complete conviction that she worries about these random objects being lonely and not having a family to love them and take care of them. If you are a fan of The Middle, this may lead you to a flashback of the episode where Sue can't get rid of her electric curlers because they are a family and will be lonely without each other, right? It certainly did for me! And forget about tossing stuff. I either have to do it when she is not around and even then she has been known to rescue said items from the trash because she has a nack for discovering even seemingly well-buried objects or we have a discussion which doesn't always work. She's got great logic (some would say inargueable) about why we can't throw the one-legged doll away. "Would you do that to a person?" Her bed. Well, I can't even describe her bed except to say that it reminds me of a hamster nest. The covers are always in a ball and the bed is full of friends. And the bed pictured here has been compromised DOWN to this many "friends".
How does this differ from Coben? Coben has a couple of stuffed animals in his bed and those stuffed animals positively annoy him at bedtime. He gets into bed and immediately starts slinging animals out. "No Bonz! No Doh-no! No Long Dog!" His bed has to be clutter-free. He has to have three blankets, no more, no less and they can't be bunched up. His feet have to be covered up in order to sleep well. Order order order.
Finally, the last big difference is shopping. Cady absolutely abhors shopping. If I could plan the worst day ever it would be to spend the day at the mall, followed by grocery shopping and then a trip to Coscto. Even if the shopping trip is dedicated 100% to shopping for clothes for Cady she HATES it. Coben cannot get enough. When I tuck him in on a Thursday night and we talk about the day ahead he gets excited and squeals, "Store? Groceries?" This week, every day off that I had was dedicated to shopping. We had Easter shopping to do, Shopping for Cady's birthday, I had to return a paint set that we bought for Cady, we hit two grocery stores. And after every store, as I would put Coben in his car seat he would hold up one finger and flash a charming smile, "one more store? please mommy?" For Cady, being confined to a cart = torture. . For Coben it's time for him to act silly and get 100% attention from his mom. He plots out our grocery store route. First soup samples, then a free cookie, "paytime" and a grand finale penny horsey ride. And when we are finished (you know, AFTER the cart has gone back to the corral), he is delighted to "help" unload groceries. I'm usually less than delighted by the "help" because grocery shopping almost always takes way longer than I think which runs into well past lunch time and my mission is to hurry and put stuff away so I can fix lunch and get him down for a nap so that he is then awake in time to pick Cady up from school. "Helping" with groceries means carrying a small bag and dramatically groaning "Ughhhhh....hebby hebby hebby!" while items fall out on the way to the door. Me standing AT the door with 6-8 bags of my own which really ARE heavy while blocking the door with my foot so Fibi doesn't run out all the while trying to maintain my "boy are you really helping" facade by chirping, "Great job Coben, keep walking. Okay don't set the bag down there we need to bring it in. Good job, you're almost here. Yes that's a spider web on the window. Yes, spiders made that. Nope, I don't see any spiders right now. Almost there Coben, c'mon!"
Speaking of spiders here's a total side note. We have been infested! It's like one mom and dad spider got busy a LOT and had a bazillion offspring that all look identical and freak the kids out. On a nightly basis Cady calls Rob in to exterminate at least one spider sometimes more. It's like she lays in bed looking for them. She avoid areas of the house if she sees a spider there and we narrowly avoided a head injury the other day when she jumped out of the bath naked and sopping wet and tore down the hallway screaming, "Spider in the bath, spider in the bath!". I hate spiders too and so when Rob is not around I get to be the exterminator. It's rare that I am as humane as Rob with his catch and release method and for some reason nearly all of my attempts to exterminate have resulted in me swatting a spider who disappears in the process and then trying to keep my cool in front of Cady and act completely unafraid while inwardly having a near panic attack wondering if the spider has landed somewhere on me like in my hair or down my shirt while reassuring her in a fake composed voice, "yep, looks like I got him. He's right here on this shower curtain package and I'm just going to go throw him away." So Coben has picked up on Cady's fear and between the two of them anytime they see a spider they are both prone to squealing, "Spider Spider SHRIEEEEK!" or in Coben's case "Pider Pider, SQUEAAAL!" So really they are not all that different!
Those of us that know us well I pose this question. Do you see any similiraties between our children and us? It's eerie isn't it? I'm appalled when I see what new treasures are exhibited in Cady's room and then I reflect on Rob's horror everytime he has to retrieve something from my purse, "I don't even like going in there. What IS all that stuff? No wonder you can never find your keys." I hear myself saying to the kids, "You can't go into the playplace without socks. I don't care what others are doing, those are the rules!" or to Rob, "It says that only kids are allowed on the slides" as Rob throws caution to the wind and comes barrelling down on his stomach. And I remember being incredulous at my own brother's stubborness as a 7 year old and how he was more willing to stand in the bathroom for 5 minutes fully-dressed with the shower running pretending to shower rather than just take a shower. And then there is Rob. The one who puts groceries away (ie, all of the items that I pulled from the pantry to make dinner) before I have had a chance to use them. Rob whose worst hoarding offense is not purging old overused T-shirts. Rob who would never fathom committing a grocery store faux pas like putting the salt that you no longer need in the aisle with the soup because it's closer. Rob who regulates his own actions but will roll his eyes if someone else tries to do it.
I find it rather fascinating that we could create two uniquely differerent kids with equally big personalities. And I find humor in the fact that I am living with two men who will keep me guessing where my clutter has gone because they have organized it away. And in turn they will be living with two women who will be calling upon them to help them find misplaced articles because they are too busy plotting for whatever is around the next corner instead of noticing where they put their sunglasses.