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Force of Nature
This weekend, my mother-in-law and I took H&H to a birthday party. CPA Mom's Eeyore was turning 3 and the kids were excited to go. The Little Gym was covered in soft, brightly colored gymnastic mats, things to climb, and balls to throw. Infectious dance music (including my personal favorite, MICKEY by Toni Basil) played nonstop.

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.

Perhaps it is enough, for now, that Hollis even dips his toes into the rapids. When Hollis finally does learn to dive in, he'll find all the more pleasure in the cool embrace of the water. And maybe he'll give me that tremulous smile. The smile that says, "I was scared, Mommy. But I did it. I did it!"

Photos by CPA Mom.

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Blogger flutter said...

They are so amazing and beautiful

Blogger jen said...

whenever i read things you (and slouchy, and jess, and others write) i think...now this is what it means to have two.

and it tickles my ovaries, all of it.

Blogger slouching mom said...

Funny, we have similarly strong personality differences between our boys, but it's my older son who's the social butterfly, who's the mystery to me and his father, who's trusting and confident and open to the world.

Cute photos!

Blogger Joy, of course said...

Oh your two boys, both so beautiful, yet so different. This was a wonderful post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 2 boys are 22 months apart and very very different. It sure messes up my whole pre-child nurture-over-nature belief system.

Blogger painted maypole said...

love the post, and the pictures are the perfect accent and show the personalities!

Blogger Brillig said...

It never ceases to amaze me how two little people from the same family, same parents, same environment can be so very different! They both sound absolutely wonderful.

Blogger KC said...

I can't wait to see how our 2nd will turn out. And it's interesting, your boys, since I always thought the 2nd child would be more chill by default, (okay, maybe I've been praying about this to be the case).

They are simply adorable, btw.

Anonymous PT-LawMom said...

Aw, what a great post! My brother and I are literally day and night. I'm straight-laced, he's... not. I'm serious, he's light-hearted. I'm rationale, he's insane. ;) But enough about us. I can't wait to have another child and see how he/she differs in personality from Pumpkinhead.

Blogger Gwen said...

I loved the way you described Hollis's more careful personality. It describes my oldest daughter so well, too. And because she's more like me now, I ache for what she's allowing herself to miss out on. But she's getting braver. And I'm always so proud of her when she conquers a fear, when she's friendly to newcomers, when she stands up for herself. These things come so naturally to my little one, I don't get the same sense of pride watching her interact with her world. Not that I don't love her just the same.

Good writing here, LM.

Blogger Binky said...

It's such a gift that they're so close in age and will be there for each other. I imagine their differences will only end up complementing one another.

Blogger Julie said...

Isn't it neat watching little babies grow so quickly into small people with personalities? Great pics, too.

Blogger Jenn said...

The A's, too, are at different spectrums of personalities.

But what I wish for the fearless one? That he is always running forward, with that smile.

Anonymous Emily said...

Oh, this could be about my boys. Really. Exactly the same, except 23 months between. But, I think you will find they will find their own ways to excel, their own mats to jump on.

Anonymous mayberry said...

I don't know why, but before I had two I never thought much about how the two would interact. And every day they do something to surprise me!

Blogger QT said...

I am an oldest and exactly the same way - everything must be studied and analyzed before I take part. I think the extra protective-ness of a new mom does this to the first child. I don't think it is bad, just saying new parents treat their first so differently - I see it in all my friends, and in my sister and her behavior with her children.

Lovely post.

Blogger Jen M. said...

Your boys are beautiful! My two oldest (both girls, scarcely two years apart) are two sides of a coin. It has it's good and bad, like anything. But mostly good.

Anonymous Momish said...

I am the same way with the timidness and my best friend was the fearless flier. We complimented each other and gave each other the support the other needed at all times in life. Because we were so different, different things effected us and therefore the other one was right there to help.

I see this timidness in my child. I think your boys are lucky to have each other to balance it out.

Your concern is touching and you really reached my heart with this post!

I can see similarities with my two boys. Thanks for writing about your guys.

Love those boys!

HEY! I nominated you for an award...check it out!

Anonymous ksr said...

I just happened up on your blog from Lawmummy's page. I could have written this post ... my boys are 18 months apart (3.5 and 2 right now) and the personality issues are identical. I definitely worry about the elder ending up in the shadow of his wild and crazy brother. Oh, and #1 is a mini-me, too. I'll keep following to watch the developments ...

Blogger Bon said...

this post is lovely...thoughtful and vivid, bringing your boys and their sweet smiles off the page.

i was just listening to a CBC public radio show on personality theories...expert dude suggested that infants show tolerance or intolerance for novelty as early as sixteen weeks, and while a shy child may develop coping strategies and even become an extrovert in some areas, some people are just more programmed to accommodate fearlessness and the new, while others require varying forms of control and safety in order to be comfortable. hmmm. sounds kinda obvious when i say it, doesn't it? i assure you it was more interesting on the radio.

but certainly, with the older one being less comfortable with the new, there will be occasions where little H leads. and i'm not sure that's bad, but it will be tough, indeed.

Blogger Kyla said...

Isn't it so strange how two people can produce two totally different offspring? Blows my mind.

Blogger Queeny said...

I loves a good kiddie birthday party. ... Oh, my kids (3 of 'em) are different as night and day and night. My girl's got the strong personality; baby boy is the most adorable and sensitive; and oldest offspring is indifferent about, well, everything.

Blogger FENICLE said...

what a good post! such a cutie :)

i always leave little kid birthday parties with a headache!

Blogger Christine said...

my kids are definitely different in amny ways, but they both wildly( emphasis on WILD) outgoing which is difficult, but interesting.

this was a beautiful post--a heart tugger

Blogger NotSoSage said...

What jen said.

Blogger Sarcasta-Mom said...

My kids are night and day as well. I'm always facinated by how I could have given birth to both, raised them both the same way, and have them come out so completely different! It's nice to see that so many other moms experience the same thing.

I know for me, it's always the most surprising when I find myself with one set of fears for one child and a completely different set for the other.

Thanks for another beautiful post. :)

Anonymous slackermommy said...

Great post! My two oldest are night and day. My son is a combination of both of them and my baby is very much like my firstborn which scares the hell out of me!

Lovely post. I hope that their differences bring them closer together rather than the opposite. And I think it will. I mean, who wants to be with someone just like them, right? :)

p.s love the pics in this post

Blogger CPA Mom said...

Oh, I'm so glad you liked my pictures. You wrote the perfect post around them too. You have such a gift for writing. I wish I had it.

My kids are different too. It's amazing.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Thanks for all the responses!

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change my children for the world. I love their differences. The similarities I see in me & Hollis are just as amazing as the differences I see in Holden. And I'm sure they will develop their own balance once they're a bit older.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one with 2 such completely different children!

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