parenting multiple people is so complicated
When did you know what personality traits your kids exhibited? It happened to me on a car ride. We visited friends at their farm in Illinois a few months ago. On the way there, I drove the family past an enormous sand pile and an idea blossomed in my head. I excitedly squealed, “Who wants to play king of the mountain?!” Seven year old daughter cum daredevil Blair shouted, “I do!” I closed the poll with no further voting. Then, I veered the SUV around and spun to a stop a few feet from the fifty foot sand mountain.
Grown ass adult Kevin remarked to no one in particular,“That sign reads ‘No trespassing-private property’.” We piled out of the car and started trudging our way up the sand dune. Blair and I led the pack, giggling and quickly getting out of breath. Kevin stopped half way up the mountain and acted as sentry. Devlin followed his twin, Blair, not exactly understanding what the excitement was about. I looked down at the SUV with all its doors open as if it would suddenly take flight. Only then did I notice Rowan was still in her seat. With her seatbelt fastened.
“We’re going to get arrested!” Rowan, age ten, protested.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart! If anyone is going down for this caper, it’s me, not you. Come on! The water is fine!”
“No!” Rowan screamed back. “I’m not doing it!”
Devlin, Blair and I reached the summit and cheered our accomplishment. “We are kings of the mountain!” Then, as quickly as we made the decision to climb, we slid down. On the descent, we filled our pockets, shoes, socks, pants, underwear, shirts and hair with grains of sand. Itchy grains of sand for the hour car ride home.
Child personality traits: like mother?
I realized that in that moment we had each revealed our individual personality traits:
Blair is the adventurer.
Devlin is the follower.
Kevin is the one to help you bury the body.
Where does that leave me? I’m the instigator, the rebel. Having an instigator mother must be hard for all of them, but especially Rowan. The fact she’s a pre-teen heightens her parental embarrassment factor. The revelation explained why Rowan habitually hides my refrigerator magnet when certain guests come over.
Ironically, I hide this magnet when Parentals visit but it never occurred to me to shield my kids from it. BECAUSE IT’S HILARIOUS. I recall a friend admitting to me once that he didn’t censor music around his kids. How evolved! I adopted his non-censorship philosophy immediately. I’m not advocating taking kindergarteners to see Black Swan in the theater. However, kids have to live in our world.
child personality traits skip generations
Not surprisingly, I sprang forth from a proper mother. So proper, I have a hard time imagining her around children. For instance, she would never have climbed a sand mountain with my sister and me. For starters, her wig would have flown off her head. She’s very practical and not prone to sentimentality. And refrigerator magnets? She thought they were tacky. She’s not wrong. To be clear, I don’t recall any magnets with lesbians in my mother’s houses growing up.
When my mother had breast cancer twenty years ago, I decided her mascot would be a bunny, symbolic of rebirth. My sister and I bought her a few stuffed animal bunnies during her recovery. She kept them out for a long time after she recovered. Fast forward to now, after my own breast cancer diagnosis. My unsentimental mother sent a package to me. I knew what it was before I parted the tissue. To wit, a big stuffed bunny. As it turns out, we sometimes figure out a way to relate to each other despite our differences.
Not only is my poor daughter the kid of an instigator, so am I- both parents. My father would have been up that sand pile before the car was in park. Even if he was driving.
I never censored much of anything around my daughter when she was growing up. And now I look at her and know I have no one else to blame. And that’s ok. Cause I never know what she is going to post on FB (she lives 3000 miles away). but I usually laugh.