Seeing all the back to school pictures on Facebook this week has reminded me that school is a great revealer of personality. You can tell a lot about a kid just by the first-day-of-school look on his face. Here’s a for instance.
That’s year-2000 Brandon, on the first day of kindergarten. Although school came easy for him (he was 4 here, and reading on a 5th grade level), I can tell you the excitement on his face was far more about being seated next to Lexi Neighbors than it was about learning. He was then, and is now, the most social person I have ever known.
What I’m saying is, regardless of any level of natural-born intellect, personality dominates. We saw this truth play out over the years, like here, in this text he sent me from class one day during his senior year of high school.
Abby, on the other hand, would never send such a text. First of all, you’re not supposed to text while instruction is taking place; plus, she might miss a valuable piece of information over which she might be tested at a later date. Her personality leads her to take an entirely different approach.
Both of our kids are smart and witty and fun. But in their unique brands of awesomeness, they have different temperaments and needs. What that means is that sometimes I have said something to one and then something quite the opposite to the other.
It’s parenting whiplash.
Since it’s the start of school and List Wednesday all at once, I’ll go ahead and show you what I mean.
to child A: You have a fever. You have to stay home from school. Also, I was thinking we could spend the day together next month on your birthday…lunch and shopping. Well, yeah, it’s a school day, but it’s okay to miss every once in a while. No? Yes, I suppose you’re right. You might have a pop quiz that day.
to child B: You’re not throwing up. Get out of bed. You’re going to school.
No TV Week:
to child A: I don’t care if your teacher said it’s “No TV Week.” We didn’t sign up for that. I promise it will be okay. Some rules are made to be broken, like the kind that try to keep me from watching Survivor. Popcorn?
to child B: You watch too much TV. Turn it off and read a book or something.
to child A: Selling 10 items is only a suggestion, and it’s not even due for two more weeks. I’ll buy you a giant sticky hand from The Dollar Store if you don’t earn it as a prize.
to child B: Your fundraising packet is due tomorrow. Here it is, wadded up in the bottom of your backpack. What’s this brown stuff all over it? Never mind. Put me down for one scented candle. Yes, I’ll buy you a giant sticky hand…since you worked so hard and everything.
to child A: You have a 99 average in that class. Why are you studying? Let’s go shopping.
to child B: Do you have any homework? Because yesterday you said you didn’t, and when I checked online I noticed that you had a test today. Yes, that grade is impressive, considering you didn’t study one minute for it. But when I ask about homework, studying for tests is included in that. Get off Twitter and go study something.
to child A: There is no reason to be stressed about this test. You’re going to do great, like always. And even if it’s incredibly hard and you somehow don’t, it doesn’t matter to me.
to child B: You better get serious about this test right now, because if you mess it up you will not graduate, and no girl will ever want to date you.
I might have embellished a few of those, but you get the idea. How are your kids different?