Z and I sat on the sofa sipping our coffee and trying to recover after a night of nightmares and crying jags brought to us by the boys. T wanted a bagel, but Z told him he needed to eat his yogurt first. T and C sprinted to the fridge. We keep the yogurt on the bottom shelf so the boys can get it themselves.

A moment later T hysterically burst into the living room, “There is something in front of the yogurt! We can’t get it! You have to move it!” he cried.

I lumbered to my feet and slowly made my way to the kitchen. C was bent down in fierce concentration, tugging with all his might on a leaking and collapsing takeout container. I sprinted over to him and grabbed the container from his hands, spill averted. C reached for the yogurt and T immediately snatched it out of his hands.

I rolled my eyes and returned it to C who broke the four pack into pieces and handed one to his brother.

Back in the living room I settled on the couch, coffee back in hand. “You know,” I said to Z, “That little interaction was basically a distillation of who those kids are. When faced with difficulty T panics and runs for help while C attacks the problem.”

An hour later when Z was headed out the door to work he turned to me, “You were right, you know. That thing with the yogurt–it is exactly who the kids are.” “Yup,” I replied. “T is me and C is you.”

Knowledge is power-T needs encouragement to face the world. C needs us to remind him that a blitzkrieg attack on the world isn’t always the most advantageous approach. Neither way is better than the other, but understanding how to approach each kid makes a huge difference.

Doing the work to figure out who they are and how they respond to the world is exhilarating and frustrating as hell all at the same time. And it seems like we need to relearn lesson that they are individuals who need to be treated differently over and over-when you’ve spent tons of time developing an effective way to deal with your kid it is sort of heartbreaking to accept you are back to the drawing board with the next one.

T cares about pleasing authority figures-Z, me, his grandparents, his teachers. C does not give a single fuck about pleasing us. He cares not that we require him to eat his chicken before he gets more pasta. As hard as it is for me to bend, I’ve realized that giving him an extra piece of pasta as a peace offering will, more times than not, get him to put more chicken in his mouth. I would never do that with T-a simple I’m going to count to three and if you don’t finish your chicken you will lose your dessert works nine times out of ten.

How to negotiate with your kid….not the most fascinating topic. But it is the key to a smoother coexistence. It matters a shitload more than I thought it did before I was a parent. Back when I firmly believed that my kid would never throw a tantrum in public–my superior parenting skills and firmness as a disciplinarian would prevent it.

Ha! I say to my old self. Ha! And you are an asshole! An ignorant asshole at that! Ha! You are in for a very rude awakening.

Is it legit to feel schadenfreude towards an earlier version of yourself?

Though my faced burned fuchsia on Saturday in the Wegmans Cafe while C was spread eagle on the ground screeching at the top of his lungs, I knew that he was frustrated as fuck that he couldn’t explain to us exactly what he wanted because of his limited vocabulary. Delayed speech sucks ass for the kid. He knows what he wants. He thinks he is explaining himself. He has no earthly idea why we don’t understand. He isn’t losing his shit because he’s a dick, he is trying to figure out how to navigate this big bad world and it is not working out for him.

Me-from-a-few-years-ago wouldn’t have been able to work any of that out. She would have looked at the toddler on the ground and then she would have looked at the parents and she would have JUDGED. Big time.

C (or T for that matter) doesn’t have free reign to behave any way he wants because life is hard. Z and I are responsible for teaching him how to be a contributing member of society, not a spoiled dickweed. Understanding who he is and having some sympathy for him actually helps with that process.

Most people don’t have to become parents to figure this shit out, but that’s what it took for me. Yeah…I haven’t always been the smartest or most mature person in the room. Better late than never, though. I’m pretty damn grateful being a parent has made me a kinder person. Those sweet boys, T and C, they have done a hell of a lot of good for me.

t school 2013

Trying to decide if we should order school pictures.

C school 2013

They are pretty damn cute.


First sledding event of the year.

Bob Dylan lullabies for C.


2 thoughts on “Individuals

  1. Can I just totally jump on the bandwagon a bit here? It’s fun to see how different your kids are. It’s also fun to see what your kids do with different parenting styles. My parents were very authoritative. Even still, they look at my 4 year old and say, “He’s not being obedient.” and my dad told me that Max’s getting distracted is his way of trying to get out of trouble.

    You know, or he’s 4, and his brain is easily distracted and focus is not his thing. Yes, he must learn focus. He’s like a dog next to a tree full of squirrels. He is just aggressively happy. He doesn’t just hug, leaning into your leg, he jumps on you from above, or runs and jumps, arms and legs splayed out, ready to grab onto you like some kind of tree marsupial. He needs contact and motion, sometimes both. He’s been moving since he’s been 10 months old. I don’t think he will ever stop.

    Samantha is our people pleaser. She’s wise. She listens to everything and more than once has put me in my place and reminded me what’s important after hearing a dilemma. She has determination and a lot of will. And under it all, she needs the attention and praise because sometimes being the older child is a thankless job.

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