Years ago, I had a teacher I'll call Mrs. K. I was in a Jewish day school, and whereas most of my classmates had older siblings or parents who themselves had attended Hebrew school, I didn’t. This meant that I had to struggle through my Hebrew studies homework basically on my own.
One day, after I had gotten yet another C on a Hebrew test, Mrs. K pulled me out of class to talk. I was cringing, but I relaxed when I saw her smiling. Then she put her hand on my shoulder and spoke:
"Think about it this way: Some people have a lot of marbles in their head, and some don't. You're just one of those people who doesn't have a lot of marbles in her head. I know you try; you're just not that smart."
I was nine years old, and I can still hear her little speech.
Things worked themselves out over time, but I have to admit, I fleetingly thought of her every time my [BLAH BLAH DOUCHE] academic accomplishments had proven her wrong over the years.
And now, as my kids get bigger, and their respective personalities grow more distinct and pronounced, I find myself thinking about her again; I think about how it felt to be -- in a way -- labeled as something, because I KNOW I’ve been doing it to my kids lately. Not awful things like my teacher, obviously, but all the same, I’ve observed (and verbalized to others) that [KID A] is the sensitive, shy, thoughtful one, and [KID B] is the outgoing, carefree one. It’s...well, it’s true, but it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty for thinking it.
With two children, I’m finding it nearly impossible to avoid making comparisons. I can’t stop myself from recalling what T did at Stage X, and noting how Lo navigates it in another way. I can’t help but feel my heart twist when I see one of my kids effortlessly jump into the fray at a party, and my other one cautiously, edging their way in, needing to see me/J in order to feel reassured.
I want to nurture (BLARFFFFFF) their differing personalities, but at the same time, not treat THEM differently from each other. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, The Thing that sticks with them for, oh, TWENTY YEARS AND COUNTING, and I know I should make myself stop mentally labeling their personalities, but to be honest, knowing their personalities dictates what they’ll respond to best in a given situation. I'm...I'm overthinking things, aren't I?
I know this post isn’t my usual tone, and I’m certain that such navel gazing would’ve been more interesting if said navel was still pierced. (I was a much more exciting person in 2000.) All the same, if you have any sage wisdom to impart, something that will assist me in figuring this out, I would be very, very appreciative. And so, I figure, would they: