The kids loved it. H&H took off in opposite directions to have fun. I don't think either of them stopped moving for the entire 90 minutes we were there. But still, Hollis and Holden reacted very differently to the loud, chaotic environment.
Holden ran up to everyone, saying "hi," and bestowing his adorable, trademark grin. He climbed with abandon and expected anyone nearby to help him or catch him. He just assumed assistance would be there as he flung himself about and he didn't care if it came from me. In fact, I only remember him actively seeking my attention once. I was sitting on the floor watching Hollis with my back to Holden and Holden ran up, tagged me, and ran away again, arms in the air, laughing at me over his shoulder, as if to say, "Here I am, Mommy. Watch me fly!"
Hollis was much more cautious. He climbed and ran and twirled, yes. But he did so alone. He never asked for help, except from me or Grandma. He never assumed that hands other than mine would be there to catch him. He ran about the room, but returned to me every few minutes. Still, the casual observer would probably never have realized how different H&H are.
Until the inflatable bounce mat made an appearance.
The kids were supposed to sit on the center of the mat while it inflated. Hollis wasn't having any of that, but Holden screamed as I carried him away from the fun. Once the mat was inflated, Holden climbed up without a backwards glance, running, jumping and stumbling across the mat, assuming that hands would be there to catch him as he leaped off the edge.
Hollis stood to the side, watching. He looked longingly at the inflatable mat but cried out in alarm when I brought him to the edge. He finally crossed it in my arms, as I awkwardly bounced my 34 year old body along while carrying a 27 pound almost-three year old on my hip. (Yeah, just call me Grace.) Finally, just before the mat was to be deflated, Hollis walked and slid cautiously across the mat, holding my mother-in-law's hands. He was shaky and cautious, but tremulously smiled in triumph.
Hollis, cautious and careful, is the quintessential oldest child in my mind. His personality is so much like mine that watching him is a surreal experience. It's almost like watching myself 32 years ago. I know the fear that holds him back and the longing to fly that accompanies it. I know that he will spend the rest of his life wanting to jump into life feet first without looking, but unable to stop himself from simply climbing, haltingly, into the shallows.
Holden, wild and fearless, is a mystery to me. He expects the adoration of everyone, but doesn't seem bothered if rebuffed. Holden will try anything, taste anything, and steal your heart with a smile. I look at him, bounding tumultuously around a room - my destructive social butterfly - and I wonder, "Who are you? How did you come from me?" But Hurricane Holden is wonderful, a force of nature. I marvel that T and I created him.
I've written before about the personality differences in my children, but never before has the path ahead been so clear to me as it was on Saturday at a child's birthday party. I worry that the scant 15 months between the boys will pose a problem, particularly when I see them engaged in the same activity. Hollis, the elder, hangs back, while Holden, the younger, jumps right in, leaving a wake behind him. Leaving Hollis behind him.
Photos by CPA Mom.