Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In a Land of Opposites

I live in a world of contrasts.  Slow down, speed up.  Lean in close and listen, while running at break neck speeds.
This is life with two boys, who are completely opposite from one another.  

The fog started to lift a few weeks ago (and by that, I mean the fog of having another new baby around) and all of a sudden I was given new eyes to see these two boys we are raising.  I am endlessly fascinated by their differences and complexities.

How is it, that God has blessed us with two different sides of the spectrum?

On one side, we have Silas.  Our cerebral 6 year old who is a blur of activity, innovation, curiosity, and imagination.  He is our ideas man.  Our master crafter.  Our socialite and news bearer.  He has one volume: loud.  He is extroverted and academic, so incredibly motivated and driven.  He doesn't slow down.  Of course, therein lies the problem.  He doesn't notice the fact that he just ran over his sister, or that his brother might have an opinion about something.  He is competitive and aggressive and simply cannot seem to fathom that there are other people who might possibly be affected by his tornado of activity.  This child will reach for the stars and he might very well get them. He challenges me with his curious and penetrating questions, and his drive to explore and conquer. He will not miss out on anything.  He is my type-A, eldest son to the extreme.

Then there is Toby.  His soft spoken voice, process oriented ways, and thoughtfulness is completely other than Silas.  He notices the little things, the shiny things, the little people and all that is around him in a completely different way.  The fact that he notices anything in the mess and noise that is his older brother is beyond comprehension to me.  He is tender and there is this beautiful thing that comes alive in him with animals (dang-it, this boy will make me get a pet).  He is caring and nurturing, and thinks things deeply and carefully.  He is an enigma to me in that everything has its place, its process, and its purpose.  Most of the time I don't understand his ways, but I respect them because he is so completely careful about how he executes everything he does.  He causes me to pause, to stop and be still.  (You have to be still to hear his voice because he is so soft spoken).  He is all heart, this boy.  Of course, that comes at a cost if you trip over his invisible and unspoken boundaries.  You will unknowingly set off in him a flare of anger or hurt or disappointment (basically all the feels).  He is sensitive and sometimes fragile. 

How do I be all things 'equal' and 'fair' to such completely different boys?  I feel such different things about them.  I love them so completely but they stir something unique in me all the same.  Now with Toby entering kindergarten it's shocking how different they are.  Silas was practically reading at the start of kindergarten and Toby can actually hardly spell his name.  But yet, I am proud of him all the same for such different reasons.  Is it possible to set very different academic standards for them?  Is it possible to give one permission to achieve and compete, and give the other permission to love and relate?

How does a parent do this?  I recognize in me a natural reaction to want to push Toby to be more academic and push Silas to calm down, but yet there is this sacredness about their unique personalities that God has placed in each of them.

My dream for them is that they would recognize the gift that they are to each other. What a gift for Toby, to have such a challenging older brother.  What a gift for Silas to have such an empathetic brother.  My dream is that they would be able to stop competing for our love (because they have it already), and simply be challenged and inspired by each others gifts. My prayer is that the comparisons and competitions would end and they would be able to encourage and champion each other.  My prayer is that we can steward their gifts without squashing their brothers gifts.  

Anyone else have very different children?  How do you uniquely challenge each of them according to their strengths?

Oh.  Right.  We have two more children afterwards.  What in the world will they add to this already complex dynamic?  Mercy.  

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