Dear Annabel and Silas,
People always compare kids. It can't be helped. We can't seem to stop ourselves. You really are so different from one another.
Annabel, you were precocious in your development. We often said you held your head up at birth.
It wasn't really an exaggeration.
You also started teething at four months, cruised around the living room at eight months and walked on your own at 10 months. You could say about a billion words by the time you were two. You were funny and charming to people you felt even the slightest bit comfortable with, standoffish and shy in all new situations.
You couldn't fall asleep in our bed. You'd squirm around until I put you in the cradle, where you'd immediately fall asleep.
I suppose the bad part - the part that may seem harshly noticed at any rate - is that we always thought your temperament had two speeds: Happy and Emergency. There didn't seem to be much room for error. We called you "high maintenance."
By contrast, Silas, you were a pretty easy-going baby. You slept through most every noise and routine upheaval, safely tucked in a pocket sling. You didn't have the crying jags that punctuated at least two hours of each of your sister's early days.
Your development, while only slightly slower than Annabel's, lacked her almost palpable determination. I'm not even sure if you have ever really "teethed." At sixteen months, you still have only four of the pearly whites, and they came in without much fanfare.
You are also into EVERYTHING once you started walking. Whereas your sister would sit with us and listen for hours as we read to her, you quietly go about your business getting into everything at or below your eye level.
We never had to "childproof" much around the house for Annabel.
There are so many subtle differences, too. While I know both of you are very intelligent, I realize now that your sensitivities seem so opposite. Annabel was more sensitive to frightening predicaments as an infant; startling and the like, whereas Silas is more susceptible to emotional hurts, such as storylines where animals get lost.
When I compare you, though, my mind filters it as if it were just intellectual curiosity; an interesting note in a long, long story that's still unfolding. There's no real assement that I'm making. The sound effects are more of a "Huh" than a 'Hmmmm."
Yet when other people notice or mention your differences -- I get almost blind with rage. I read into their comments the passing of judgment and I become hopelessly defensive.
Perhaps I'm just afraid that you won't love each other as much if you feel you must compete for affection. Or worse, you'll dislike yourselves if you feel shortchanged in that affection.
I love you both so intensely for who you are as individuals, I won't ever be able to put it into words how this feels. I know I'm just getting to know you, but I feel I do know you and being surprised by changes only deepens understanding. It doesn't change it.
Even when I'm exasperated and tired and short tempered; my love for you and admiration of you is overwhelming to me.
I know you will both know this feeling when you have children of your own one day. Until then you'll just have to trust me.
Love and zerbert,
Friday, October 24, 2008
One of these is not like the other
Dear Annabel and Silas,