Sunday, July 3, 2011

The terrifying implications of shape-sorting

I have a hundred blog posts in my head right now (okay maybe not a hundred, but at least ten) but just no time to write them. Well, that’s not true; I have as many hours in my day as the next person, but there just always seems to be something more pressing than composing a blog post. You know - work, babies, laundry, more work, dishes, sleep. I don’t beat myself up for not posting because honestly, the amount I accomplish in any given day is pretty damn impressive - even if I can‘t manage to post with any kind of predictability.

But the thing is, I miss it. I miss writing about the things I care about. And even if I wasn’t a writer, as a mom, I want to document all the cool little things my babies are doing. So while I may not have time to explore all the nuances about being a working wife and mother of twins, I can at least keep a record of what my little girls are doing, right? So here goes...

This tenth month has brought all kinds of new tricks. Both of the girls are now master crawlers and cruisers, which means my days with them are literally spent chasing babies. They’re babbling more, but still no real words (except "Dada" of course - the little traitors). That doesn’t mean they can’t communicate though - and they certainly aren’t shy about letting you know how they’re feeling. Anna started waving a while ago - mostly at the Winnie the Pooh balloon in the nursery. Julie also loves Pooh, but only recently started waving at him too. They’ll wave at people now as well, but not always at the right time. They've also started clapping. And when one starts the other immediately joins in - just like little cheerleaders - God help me.

They're eating all kinds of foods - pasta, cheese, black beans, sweet potato fries, kiwi, watermelon, berries. They love peanut butter which you're not supposed to give babies before their first birthday, but seriously? With the amount of peanut butter I consumed while pregnant and breastfeeding, I figured there's no way they could be allergic. And thank God they're not. I might have to disown them.

People ask about their personalities, and I feel hesitant to comment because it seems too early to burden them with traits and characteristics they may or may not keep. And I worry that the assumptions I make about their personalities now will potentially affect how I (and others) treat them. For example, my mom bought them a little bucket with a lid that you sort shapes into. You know - the circle goes in the circle hole, the square goes in the square hole, etc. For months now I've been trying to show them both how to do it, but only in the last week or so has Julie figured it out. She can do the circle all on her own and with a little help can do the other shapes too. I clap and squeal when she gets it right and she giggles with glee at the praise. Anna, completely oblivious to her sister's accomplishment, also enjoys the praise. She looks up from whatever she's doing and gives me a big smile as if to say, "Yes, Mommy, I am pretty wonderful!" before going back to whatever she's doing.

Julie however remains focused on the task at hand, and she gets very frustrated when she can't do it on her own (just like Mommy!). Anna on the other hand, doesn't seem to understand why you would go to the trouble of putting the circle in the circle hole when you could just as easily lift the lid and put the circle (along with all the other shapes) directly in the bucket. And really, she has a point. Why shouldn't you take the solution that requires less effort? (A point often made by Daddy!). It would be easy for me to fall into a pattern of treating Julie like me - a hardworking perfectionist determined to do everything right - and Anna like Roger - a laid back optimist eager to make the best of every situation.

It's not that I think they'll end up in therapy if we do treat them differently because of how they approach shape sorting, but I still want to try my best not to do it. And it's just so tempting - because it's not just the shape sorter. We've been making these comparisons since we brought them home from the hospital. When Julie was screaming for no discernible reason while Anna was cooing in her crib we assumed it was because Julie was stressed and dramatic (like Mommy!) and Anna was taking it easy (like Daddy!). That's not to say Anna hasn't had her moments of inexplicable screaming and Julie has never taken things in stride - they have and they do. In fact, they're constantly switching roles (and thank God they do because those rare moments when they're both inexplicably screaming are near impossible to cope with!). But I want to be careful not to fall into a pattern of treating Julie one way and Anna another. I want them both to know that I think they're both capable of anything. Julie may be named after her orthopedic surgeon aunt but Anna is just as likely to become one. And Bryanna Darby may be named after her athletic grandfather and her artistic aunt, but Julie could just as easily turn out to be the athlete or the actress.

Even if I wanted to, I know I can't dictate their future. But I want to make an effort to open doors - not to push them through. I know; they're barely ten months old and I'm already assessing the potential ways I might screw them up, but how can I not? There are just so many ways...

You know, maybe it's best that I don't usually have time to write because thinking about it all is just a little too terrifying.