Sunday, October 31, 2010

Superheroes and cold places

We talk a lot about future careers in our house.  I think it's the best way to capture where a child is at in any particular moment. 

Jack currently wants to be an author and a scientist, with a house in Minnesota and another one in Russia. He'd also like to sleep in tents a lot. He spends a lot of time writing stories and drawing pictures, and is always running some sort of experiment.  Living in very cold places?  Not sure what that one is about - he did NOT get that from his mother. 

Andrew wants to be a superhero and a science teacher, and that is such a great way to define the dichotomy in him - the deeply thinking, analytical side and the very-physical "helper" spirit. On his struggling days,  I have him make pancakes with me, move clothes into the dryer, get things for Simone.  He wants to know he's a valued, functional part of our family - and that his actions make a difference.  I love this about him.

I am very, very curious to see if these change completely as they get older...or if there's some reflection of that baseline interest.  I can't really imagine Andrew being a sedentary desk job.  Is it because he's only 3?  Considering he's the son of a math teacher who does Ironmans, perhaps that split between thinker/athlete will continue with him?

Having more than one child makes certain aspects of personality really pop out.  What seemed like it was age-appropriate and unquestioned with Jack, became more interesting when I see Andrew make completely different choices or decisions.

I used to plan on not comparing my children, but I now see that's just about value judgments.  Seeing the varied elements of personality is what makes our family more best...and lets us nurture our children. 

If we decided one trait was bad and the other good, that's one thing.  But watching our kids settle into this path, their personal groove, is one of the most fascinating things I've ever watched. 

Learning how to parent them differently, in ways that honors that difference, is one of my primary goals.  But I'm not always sure how to do it.  Some are simple: Right now, I can see sending Jack to his Russian camp the same week that Andrew goes to a Outward Bound trip.  But will that change as they get older?  And how do I best nurture that on a daily basis with them?

I think parents learn as much from children  (and grow as much from what they learn), as children learn from us.


Me: "Jack, does it sound interesting to you to listen to what someone says in Russian and translate it into English?  Would you like that job?"

Jack: "Nyet."