Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Attention, Sense, and Behavior: Differences



Peyton and I have been talking a lot about how the differences in the children seem to get more and more pronounced the older they get. In many ways they are alike- they have tons of common interests; they are both (mostly) kind, smart, funny children; they both struggle to obey at times and are amazingly compliant at other times.

But they are very, very different. I think that makes parenting them so interesting.

I can already tell homeschooling Graves is going to be a different thing entirely than it has been with Annie. I don't want to say that I think Annie will be more academically successful, but at this point I think her academic success will come more easily. I say that simply because her attention span is (I think) pretty incredible for a five year old. His attention span is around what I would consider normal for a three year old boy, maybe slightly shorter (as one would expect from a child who has a father and three uncles with diagnosed attention disorders). AND NO, I'm not diagnosing him. I'm saying he's predisposed to some tendencies (that I will fight tooth and nail not to medicate if it comes to that).

But where Annie lacks is in the area of common sense. This is just hysterical to me because I made almost all A's in school, but I read as the ditziest person alive. I'm the chick who believed gullible was written on the ceiling until about the time I had my own locker and I'm also the girl who believed that something like over ten percent of deaths in the United States were caused by sharks. So...she comes by it as naturally as Gravey Train comes by his inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Several weeks ago we got a light dusting of snow and Peyton tried to fool the kids with a tale of a snow monster. Graves IMMEDIATELY caught on and began saying "I saw him!" "Oh! Oh! He's over there!". Annie just stared out the window resolutely and said "Hmmm....I still don't really see him".

I'm also fascinated by their differences even in the ways they misbehave. I've long said Annie is stubborn, sassy, and at times defiant (again, like her momma was). And I've long explained that Graves is mostly just "naughty" and his behavior issues have more to do with self-control than anything else. But recently he's added a new level. He's really, really manipulative at times.

Now, Annie can be manipulative in certain ways. One way she does this is by threatening me and saying "if you do this, then I'll do this" (like "If you take away my TV time, I won't let you get on the computer during naptime). Um okay....that's worked before. Or not.

Graves is much more sneaky, though. For example, the other night at church we were handing out programs at different doors and I got to stand inside at the back one. Peyton was outside in front of the church. Graves had picked to go with him but he got cold. He kept telling Peyton he wanted to go inside with me. And Peyton was like "it's just ten minutes more and you can sit right inside the door where I can see you". After a few minutes he told Peyton he needed to teetee. Of course they got there (really close to the back door) and he was like "Ooooh, actually I don't need to to teetee. I'll just go see Momma now". I'm honestly unsure if Annie could come up with that. Actually, I'm fairly confident she couldn't. She's very literal and I don't think her mind works in a deceptive way yet. I don't love being tricked by my three year old. Whew. 

It's also interesting to me what they pay attention to. Annie is often really oblivious to obvious things and pays more attention to details and zones in on things that really interest her (for example, the subway map). Graves is usually captivated by people and the way they look. I was telling a friend this-  Graves perceives a lot more about physical appearances than she does, I think. He notices bodies, he notices race, he notices elaborate hair do's and eccentric hair colors, he notices when "she has a stud in her nose like you do, Momma". And Annie's all like "Yaaaaaaa'll, I think we're on the wrong train". I've said more times than I can count "Yes, she does have green hair, Bud. Isn't it beautiful?" And I've also pulled Annie away from a subway map more times than I can count because she was completely oblivious to the people behind her actually needing to use it. 

Another thing I was telling a friend (and discussing with Peyton)- Annie is very complex, but at this point, very predictable. Graves is not what I'd call complex, but he's also not at all predictable. 

As they grow and change, I think it's fun to watch these things play out and notice how their personalities are forming more distinctively from each other, but also from any other person in the world. It's amazing to think that just like no two people look exactly alike, God created us all with hearts and minds that work differently from one another while at the same time making us all in His image. One of my favorite things in life is watching these two little image bearers grow up into themselves- strengths and weaknesses and things that are sort of neutral. I hope they always find us a safe place to be their truest selves. They are so very loved and their uniqueness is so appreciated.  

1 comment:

Mallory Pickering said...

It won't have to come to medicating Graves if you don't want it to!(I will not weigh in on the issue as I don't wish to make anyone feel bad, and honestly because I don't have strong views on it.) Just to say though- no one can make you! You choose how to raise your own kid.

I like how Graves is a student of people. :) Sweet.