I love parenting studies. They give me all sorts of new ideas to try, but at the same time, they convince me that what I do as a parent within certain limits (no abuse, neglect or abandonment) matters relatively little. The irony is, the more informed you become as a parent, and the more of your life you devote to employing all the tricks and tweaks that are associated with successful, happy kids, the more you bump into research that says you might as well be bowling.
I swear I raise both these twins the same, but yesterday’s trip to the playground is a perfect example of how much of their personalities is just nature.
They both fell multiple times in the couple of hours we spent walking and playing. The difference is (and we’ll mask their identities for their future love lives’ sakes with new designations) when Baby A fell, he would grab me for a second in fear, and then immediately chant “Walk, walk.” I put him down, and all was forgotten. Baby B however, would climb into my arms and be afraid to walk again: “Carry you? Carry you?” Yeah, try to carry me, bud.
The difference at the play place was even more marked.
Baby A scales the stairs at one end of the big play complex, runs across the arch to the other end squealing and laughing and slapping the plastic, and throws himself unaided down the swirly slide. Baby B, meanwhile, gingerly tests his weight on every metal step, demands assistance going up and down the slight arch, carefully positions himself on the slide, deliberates for the length of a Congressional session, and then asks for someone to hold his hand going down.
Baby A by this time has flown through the mulch with one sandal unhinged and barreled his way all the way back through the complex. He’s about to lap his brother. Again.
After being physically removed from the slide, Baby B takes two steps in the mulch and begins to loudly protest that some mote of wood or dirt has gotten into his sandal. He will not take another step until the sandal has been removed and his foot thoroughly brushed.
Rinse and repeat six times. Aggravated Mommy gives an ultimatum: “You’re going to have to learn to take a step with dust particles in your footwear or we are going home! I’m not taking off your sandals again. Not one more time!”
We go home.
Dinner ensues punctuated by Baby B’s demands that some droplet of milk or crumblet of apple be immediately attended to, “Mommy! Mommy! Messy! Spill!”
“What is a ‘wimp’, Mommy?” Fluffy asks. “Nothing, Fluff. I don’t know. Forget I said that.”
On a separate note, on Monday, Peppers demanded that I put Fluffy’s discarded frock on him. Once I got it on he tore at it as though the fabric were burning him. I know just how he feels. It looks so good on the hanger, then you put it on, and it makes you look fat. You can’t get it off fast enough. So naturally I…reached for the camera.