Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yin and Yang

To say that I was excited when I found out I was having boy/girl twins would be an incredible understatement. I was full of rose-colored thoughts about playing trucks and playing princesses.  Blue and pink.  Getting dirty in the sandbox and painting tiny, dainty pink fingernails.  I hit the mother-lode; the best of all possible parenting scenarios. I also thought that, even though they'd be completely different, they'd be best friends--fiercely loyal to and protective of one another.  What more could I ask for?

I just didn't bank on exactly HOW different they'd be. And not necessarily in the ways I expected.

From infancy, they were so very different. What soothed one would drive the other crazy. Anderson loved the baby swing and could sit in there for hours; Amelia was unhappy after about, oh, 30 seconds. Amelia, on the other hand, loved the bouncy seat--Anderson was unimpressed. When we introduced baby food, Anderson couldn't get enough. He ate all the nasty flavors--green beans, peas, (gulp...) chicken dinner; with Amelia, it was bribery bordering on force-feeding for a very long time. Some of  those early days, while amazing, were also a bit...frustrating, shall we say?

Always Yin and Yang with food--at dinner, what one loves and eats voraciously, the other ignores. Always.
 As they got older, the trend continued.  For the longest time, Anderson loved taking a bath while Amelia fought it like a wild animal. Then they flip-flopped (which happens a lot, still). Amelia loved watching Sesame Street (yes, my children watch TV. Not excessively (most of the time)  but yes, they watch. Judge away, if you must...); Anderson wouldn't look at the screen for more than two minutes at a time. Amelia liked to color but hated Play-Dough; Anderson still hates picking up a pencil or crayon but is a Play-Dough aficionado.

They also totally threw my gender-steretypical ideas about play right out the window.  Amelia loves playing in the dirt and sand; Anderson could care less. Amelia loves to play rough, be thrown about--Anderson cannot STAND that kind of play (but probably more a vestibular issue).  Anderson is actually very gentle with baby-dolls (it's actually very cool--he's very loving)--Amelia...well, let's just say she's not yet the 'mothering type'.  She prefers stuffed animals, and Anderson hates them, with the exception of Tofu, of course. Amelia loves to play catch; Anderson has shown no interested in playing ball of any kind, much to Marty's chagrin. One common ground here is cars and trucks--they both like playing with those fairly equally. At school, when Amelia has free-choice center selection, she most often chooses to play with cars and table toys--none of that kitchen play for her! She's all women's lib like that.

It's not just outright preferences, either. It's personalities. Anderson is sweet, caring, and sensitive. Amelia is stubborn, self-assured, vocal about her wants and needs. Anderson wilts like a flower if you say his name too loudly, with an edge in your voice; Amelia will do her best to make her voice louder than yours, if she's in trouble. If she thinks she hurts you, though--either a physical or an emotional hurt--she is quick with a kiss and an apology, tears if she thinks she hurt you badly. Anderson has no clue when he hurts you, and is more likely to laugh at you than feel bad about it.

When we attended our free ballet class trial (which Anderson insisted on attending, too...and yes, we are totally fine with that! Hey, anything he wants to do that is going to require class participation and following directions is all good here...), I realized that we had never had an experience that highlighted their differences quite like this one. First of all, it was adorable--for both kids.  They were the only students in the class, which was both bad and good. Amelia was a bit shy with the teacher, and at one point even asked her when the other little girls were going to come. Anderson--well, he was clueless about that. He was clueless about most of it. And I am certain that the teacher was very glad she only had two students that night--because Anderson was enough for her. More trouble than TEN students, I'm guessing.

Amelia had a laser-focus on what she was supposed to be doing. If the teacher showed them a position, she was dead-set on getting it right, and she didn't want to move on to another pose until she mastered the first one. Anderson...well, he was more of a free spirit. He would make an attempt at doing what the teacher was asking, but if the spirit moved him to do something else, he went with it.

Amelia--focused. Anderson--I don't even know.

Amelia: thinking about getting her feet just right. Anderson: thinking about swinging on this bar, despite the teacher's constant reminders not to do it.
Amelia--perfect ballerina. Anderson--perfect free spirit.

It was fascinating. A seriously awe-inducing look into who they are as human beings.

I was completely amazed and inspired by Amelia's focus and dedication to getting it all exactly right. She leans towards being a perfectionist, something I appreciate as I have a bit of that in me, as well.  That drive? That drive is going to serve her well in life. She's going to have so many obstacles to overcome, with her size issues. There are going to be moments of both physical and emotional challenge for her, and she's going to have to persevere. Watching that 45 minute ballet lesson, I realized that she will rise to the occasion.  She can do it. She's driven and motivated and all of my worries about her not being able to handle it have been unfounded.  I know it's going to be hard, and I know she's going to have times where it becomes overwhelming and exhausting and just plain hard--but I know she can do it. I'm convinced. She blew me away that night.

And Anderson...oh, my little free spirit. I never, ever want him to lose that. He was never disrespectful to the teacher, but wow was it hard for him to focus on the precision of the ballet moves. Not because they were too hard, physically. Just because he prefers to march to the beat of his own drum. If she "waved her arms gently in the breeze, like a tree", he was the epitome of a tree in a tornado. If she asked them to "leap", he jumped like a long jumper. If she asked them to wave their ribbons gently, he was twirling them like a baton, watching the silky colors spin like a fan.  Poor teacher, she tried so hard to get him to emulate her moves. He was respectful to her but he just did his own thing, oblivious to the fact that he wasn't conforming. THAT will serve him well in life, that ability to be happy even when others aren't quite sure what the heck he is doing.  He wasn't worried that he wasn't doing it right, and he wasn't worried that she was clearly not digging his freestyling moves. He was just happy to be able to move his body, in the ways that he likes best, in a big room with music. Oh, my little love. What a sweet sight to see.

They're my two opposites. So different from what I imagined when I was pregnant and clueless. But so, so much more.

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