Monday, April 18, 2011

Like chalk and cheese

I am the first to admit it.

Lachlan and Hayden are like chalk and cheese.

Sure, they look VERY similar - some people (strangers) even go so far as to ask if they are twins. (Hello, they are a head difference in height?!?!?!? And you can tell that one is older...) But they are EXTREMELY different in their personalities. They are polar opposites. It is very clear and it is rather fascinating. I admit it, it's quite interesting to look at them and it's very easy to summarise them and define each of them. This definition is made even easier to do by comparing them.

But why must people compare them ALL the time. Maybe it's just an easy conversation starter? Whatever it is, I don't like it.

Sure, I find it fascinating too but I'm becoming aware that it is harmful to each child. The one who is deemed less cute, less accomplished, less obedient, in particular. And why must people talk about them and compare them while both boys are standing right there? Why would it be ok to talk about how brilliant one child is at soccer and talk animatedly about how amazed you are at their prowess while the other child is sitting there, having also played soccer? He's listening and he gets the message - even though you haven't intentionally made one. Kids are smart. Kids get it. And kids know and understand when one child is being praised and the other isn't.

And it's harmful to their self-esteem, confidence, self-belief.

Yes, they are different. But different is good. Why does different have to carry a negative connotation? Why is one personality perceived as better or more desirable than another? Why can mankind not just appreciate that we are all different and be ok with that?

Lachlan, I love you. Hayden, I love you. And Natalie, I love you. Each with your own unique personalities, talents, strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Each with lots to share and give.

So next time you're about to open your mouth and make a comment about someone's children and how different they are, just stop. and think. About how it will make the children listening feel, and how it might make the parents feel to hear you neatly categorise each child into a concise little package. Because there is always more than you can see.