One thing that surprises me in parenting these two boys is how incredibly different they are. I don’t know why that surprises me. I guess I didn’t think about it too much before Holden arrived, but I probably just assumed raising him would be the same as raising Brandon. I assumed what worked for Brandon would work again with Holden. I didn’t account for different babies. They share the same DNA and are raised amongst the same parents in the same house, so you’d think both nature and nurture would churn out two identical little young ‘uns.
Well, it didn’t. And I guess if you think of any pack of siblings anywhere, there will never be two the same. We all come out with these personalities already a part of us. Some of us are strong-willed, some are emotional, some are funny, some are peaceful, some are feisty. Some are all of those and more, some are none of those, but someone else entirely.
I don’t know what kind of men these little boys will grow up to be yet, of course, but there are some observations I’ve already made on who they are organically. Brandon is social. When he cries, he likes to be comforted with kisses and snuggles. He likes to have people watching him or listening to him as he shows off what he knows. He wants dad and mom to dance with him when his song comes on. He says “hello” to everyone, even the characters in his books.
Holden, on the other hand, is a bit more of a loner. He can play on his piano gym or in his bouncer without a peep, but then when someone is smothering him, he starts to wail. It was driving me crazy that I haven’t been able to get him to go back to sleep after his 7 a.m. bottle anymore. I rocked him, cooed at him, whispered to him that mommy really wanted to go back to sleep. Nothing worked. So I told myself that I now wake up at 7 a.m. too. I started going to bed earlier to cope. I went for a run on Tuesday before most commuters were even out of their driveways. And when I came home, he was asleep for Steve. So the next day, determined to repeat the previous day’s success, I tried something different. I put him in his crib, turned on his mobile, and walked away. And what do you know? Within two minutes he was back asleep, peaceful as could be.
Brandon didn’t have much trouble with teething. His teeth erupted, of course, but he didn’t make too much of a fuss about it. He doesn’t get too riled up. Even when he falls now, he just says, “I’m alright,” to calm down his overly-worried mother. Holden, however, raises hell if he’s unsatisfied. He is the loudest baby in the world. He doesn’t have a gentle baby whimper or a sweet cry. He has a ear-piercing shriek. He is high-strung. He wants you to help his hurting gums but not to coddle him while doing so. He wants a frozen washcloth and then to be left the fuck alone in his misery. His misery doesn’t love company. He is a recluse when he can be, and he screams when he realizes he needs someone for something.
Brandon’s resting face is a smile, while Holden’s is a frown. But they both love to laugh. Brandon laughs while watching movies or when reading books, or when he repeats a word he finds funny. He laughs to include people in his joy. Holden laughs if I sing to him or call him “gubby,” but I get the distinct feeling that he’s laughing at my ridiculousness, not along with it. This could be a paranoid assumption, but it certainly feels like Holden laughs to separate himself from others. He laughs out of superiority at the dummies making fools out of themselves.
Of course, Holden is only four months old, and Brandon is only two. There is so much that will change and shape them as their lives play out. But it is amazing for me to see how different two little guys with so much in common are, even from birth. It’s amazing to see this mix of Steve’s and my personalities already manifesting in our offspring. Oh, and it’s a little scary to think of the evils they will be susceptible to based on how they are. It’s something this overly-protective and worried mom would think about. When really, I should be focused on how I don’t have infant parenting figured out because I’ve raised one infant before. It’s really starting all over with the second one.
Our siblings. They resemble us just enough to make all their differences confusing…
– Susan Scarf Merrell