To Each His Own
Posted by wendiwendy
Paige is home for spring break this week, although it’s not technically spring yet (and the weather here in Illinois reflects that). She requested a week of just hanging out and relaxing, with home-cooked meals, so the biggest excitement so far this week has been a trip to the beauty supply store.
I bought GVP Sculpting Mousse, which I’ve never tried before, and Paige was checking it out. We both have curly hair, but hers is long, full and gorgeous, with more of a slight wave on top and then super-curly curls on the bottom. For the past three years I’ve been really into the “curly girl” method of hair care, and I spend a lot of time over at NaturallyCurly.com reading forums and keeping up on new products and ways to keep my hair healthy, and the curls curly instead of limp or frizzy. Paige, however, just isn’t that into the mechanics of her gorgeous hair, and I can tell it frustrates her when I get a little overzealous.
She tried the mousse, and we both exclaimed over how good it smelled (she called it Pina Colada, I called it Coconut Cream Pie). After she put it in her hair, I said, “Oh, now you have to scrunch it up to get the curl going.” I started to scrunch the bottom of her hair and she backed away. “MOM. I don’t want that.” I kind of froze and realized that I’m the one who really likes to scrunch and get my curl going; Paige prefers more of a beach wave and doesn’t necessarily want the tight curls that come so naturally to her.
This happened a lot as my kids were growing up. When they’re babies, you think of them as little versions of you. (Or at least I did!) I imagined all the things I’d do with them as they grew up – all the books from my childhood I couldn’t wait to share with them, all the activities I enjoyed so much. Eric came along first, and as he grew from a baby to a toddler I started to get an inkling that he wasn’t going to share in a lot of my interests. I spent a lot of time coming up with crafts we could do together, but it didn’t take long to realize he didn’t have the attention span for most of them. He hated getting his hands dirty, so clay, ‘goop’ (the cornstarch and water stuff) and even finger paints kind of freaked him out.
By the time he was three, it was obvious he preferred pretend games. He loved action figures, transformers, trains, anything where he could create a little world for his ‘guys’ and their vehicles. This bored me to tears, although I’d gamely sit down and try to play along. (My dad was much better at this!)
By the time Paige came along, when Eric was four, I was so used to not bothering with any kind of craft or painting activity that it took me a while to realize she might actually like it. By the time I started her on crafts, she was old enough to just want to do it herself.
Same with books – I envisioned sitting with her and introducing her to Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was old enough. That day came, I brought out the books I’d saved from my childhood…and Paige was not interested. “Eh, they’re kind of boring,” she said, as she turned back to the books she preferred (on animals and babysitting). I couldn’t believe it! How could neither of my kids enjoy Laura, or A Wrinkle in Time?! It was just another lesson for me – they aren’t me. They each had their own interests, separate from me.
I know my own mom must have seen this with me – I was quiet and shy, while my mom was outgoing and the life of the party. I preferred to stay alone in my room, reading, while she implored me to give friends a call to see if they wanted to hang out, or go to parties, or anything to get me out of the house. I would spend hours writing letters to pen pals or just listening to music in my room. I know she probably thought I was sad and lonely, because I imagine she would have felt that way if she was alone as much as I was as a kid. But I liked it – I’m really an introvert, and it exhausts me to be around big groups of people after a while. We were just different. When I was a kid, I kind of felt bad, like I wasn’t the type of daughter my mom wanted. Now that I’ve grown up and had my own kids, I can completely see where she was coming from. It just takes a while to realize that these little people you created will grow up and be so separate from you, with totally different personalities and interests.
So now I just try to enjoy my two very different, very individual children for the people they are. They introduce me to new interests, and they tolerate me when I slip up and forget they aren’t younger versions of me. (No more scrunching, Paige — I promise!)