How Different Are Your Kids?

I have two different kids. This might not come as a surprise to others, but somehow, it’s managed to sneak up on me and bite me in the behind.

They look similar enough that people often ask if they are twins – though one is a good head taller than the other.  They are only twenty months apart, which means that my three-year old is convinced that he, too, is five. But under the huge eyes and eyelashes to die for (how did they get them? Why don’t I have them?) are two shockingly different brains.  One stayed patiently in his bed all night, never coming down the stairs unless someone came to collect him – until his little brother learned to walk and introduced him to the concept of escape. One obligingly nods off at 7 p.m., the other is a night owl who often is the last one in the house to close his eyes.  One carefully puts his gum in the wrapper when he is done and looks for a trash can, the other carefully removes my hand from my jacket and spits his gum into my pocket. One is quietly observant in new situations, the other walks into the room like he owns it. And he does. One bruises when he falls, the other bounces. If I speak softly, one will ignore me. If I speak firmly, one will cry.

The challenge of parenting two distinct and magnificent little people is more than I expected. It’s hard to know when to stick to one set of rules and boundaries, and when to respect that different people learn, behave and respond, well, differently. I do take comfort in their similar, overwhelming love for each other. Each cries like his heart is broken when the other is hurt, even – especially – when he is the one responsible. Each adores the other (except, of course, when he doesn’t). But I am mostly humbled by their equally giant hearts, and I hope I am doing right by both of them.

How different are the little people in your life? How does your parenting change to accommodate their differences?