Saturday, 19 April 2014

Why are my children so different?

When I was young, I always assumed that when I grew up, I would get married to a tall man with a nice smile, and have a boy and a girl.  One of each, job done, roses round the door, thank you very much.

So two boys (and a failed marriage) later, my 'one of each' dream shattered into tiny manly pieces, I comforted myself by thinking: two boys from the same gene pool.  They'll be pretty similar, if not just like twinnies.  They'll like the same stuff, want to do the same stuff, act the same way.  Ha! to one of each!  This is going to be a piece of piss!

I look back at my naive former self and wonder how I could be so deluded. In truth, my boys couldn't be more different.

The evidence for this was plain even when they were didders.  As a baby, teen would go to bed early, and wake up early.  Sometimes at a time beginning with a five.  (This was unpleasant.)  And when he was up, he was immediately full of beans, wanting company, wanting attention, wanting, wanting, wanting...

Tween, once we had extracted THE DUMMY and settled his sleeping down, was a later riser. And when he did wake up, his mood would be veiled until toast and telly twonked him into life. But he was happier on his own, more independent...easier.

Teen grimaced throughout his early years.  Tween smiled.  Teen loves tomatoes, hates green beans. Tween hates tomatoes, loves green beans.  Teen has a small head.  Tween has a fat head.  Teen wears glasses and gets headaches.  Tween does not. Teen is co-ordinated.  Tween has hands like hams.

Teen is obsessive.  Tween couldn't care less.

I could go on but frankly, I'm starting to bore myself now - you probably left ages ago to make a cup of tea. My point is, it would be much easier to describe their similarities than differences.

What seems to have happened is that, at the point of insemination of Teen, my ex's genes muscled in.  In a recent study (done by me, with a whopping total of three respondents), I've noticed that first borns, very generally, seem to be more like their fathers. I read somewhere - or maybe I made it up - that this is some evolutionary development which means that the father is less likely to reject the child.

Whether it's hokem or not, son #1 in our household is pretty much an exact replica of his Dad. And, bearing in mind that I left his Dad because of who he was, this can cause some heavy internal wrangling inside my head.

Son #2 has my genetic make-up, so even when he's being a complete shit, I can see why - I just know - and so I tend to cut him some slack.

This all makes for very complex and sometimes extremely bad parenting on my behalf (which I touched on in previous post: Do I love my children equally?)

And they fight.  My God, they fight.  I wonder sometimes if, if they were just a tiny bit more similar, that they would have more empathy with each other - and perhaps there would be less back-thumping, goolie-kicking, name-calling and worst of all, not saving the other's xbox game like they promised.  Or whether, actually, the horrors of sibling rivalry would happen however much they had in common.

By the way, it's now 10.20am.  Teen has been up for ages, itching to get out and about.  But I can still hear Tween snoring in his cave.

It's going to be another long day.


  1. Excellent post Lottie! I've got one of each, and although their personalities are total opposites, they have more in common than they don't, IYSWIM. Weirdly, The Boy is the eldest, but is exactly like me - I wonder if my PND made him like that? - so I, like you, cut him more slack.

    Hmmm. I need to think about this...

    1. Thanks Lucy! Let me know what you conclude? I will have to reinvestigate my first born theory, now. [goes away and scratches head...] x

  2. My eldest 2, both girls, born 18 months apart are also chalk and cheese. eldest like me, youngest like her dad. One left handed, the other right, one dark hair and skin, one light and pale, totally different interests and skills. We use to say the only thing they had in common was they hated each other....literally. This hate lasted well into their 20's.
    Move on till eldest has first child and they have been great, wonderfully supportive, help out, take the nephew/niece to give mum a break....

    1. Gosh Elaine, I'm so pleased that they have come together - even if it's taken 20+ years and a child to trigger it! Long may it continue. x

  3. I think its quite rare to get siblings who aren't like chalk and cheese in my experience! My sister and I are quite different in many ways - particularly temperament-wise (and btw my sister is the eldest and much more like my Mum than Dad), and my nieces are also very different. I also had to make have a huge attitude adjustment when I found out I would never live out that dream of having one of each! *sigh*.

  4. I think sibling rivalry is there no matter how alike or different they are. Maybe worse if they were both alike even? Though I have no evidence to back that up!
    Mine are all very different too - the younger two are much more happy go lucky, socially aware, comfortable in their skins; my eldest, bless him, finds everything a bit harder and has definitely inherited my social ineptitude and lack of self belief. At the moment they don't fight a huge amount, except over the iPad, though I'm not counting my chickens yet!!!
    You have started me thinking about which bits of me the kids have inherited that I wish they hadn't (and equally those bits of their father too) - hmmm, blog post in the making possibly...

  5. Love this post! My two boys are like chalk and cheese too, although generally they get on very well together (they've got a sister to fight with/ annoy instead). As it happens my eldest has the worst of both of our genes and the younger one the best of both of our genes.

  6. I've never thought about this in this way before. I am noticing the differences between my daughters, despite how young they are, but still, probably big-headedly, compare them both to myself. My partner is adamant that eldest is my carbon copy, no fuse, no patience whilst he's claiming the chilled out baby is all his doing. Now the youngest has started being a little more tantrum-y he's going back on his words! I'm hoping they'll get both our best bits and it would be brilliant if they both had his relaxed attitude instead of my on-edge-ness!

  7. I only have one (a boy) and he is far more like me than Daddy. I am the eldest of four and far like my Mum than the rest. In fact, lots of people still comment on that despite the fact my Mum died ten years ago. My brother (20 months younger) is very relaxed and chilled out, in fact my Mum used to comment that he is so laid back he is practically horizontal. I am usually wound up like a spring!


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