Children aren’t all the same. That was clear the moment we stepped into our first Parenting Now! Incredible Infants class. Some of the babies were curiously staring around the room, some screaming, some cowering into their mothers’ arms, and some happy as could be to get the whole room’s attention. Pack eleven babies of about the same age into that cheery parenting room and each one will have you mesmerized at how different he/she acts from any other baby in the room.
The discrepancies have only widened since that first class. Our specific parenting group is now between Wonderful Ones and Terrific Twos groups, so we get together a few times a month to chat about pressing parenting concerns and let the kids play. Some kids will only leave their parents’ legs if they can stay in eye contact at all times. Others are constantly roaming, careless of their parents’ whereabouts. Some are loud, very loud, and others are so quiet you can’t tell they’re there. Some are cautious, others are little daredevils.
While driving home after each gathering, my husband and I talk about all the other toddlers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing our daughter to each of them. Some will talk your ear off in full sentences while our daughter is barely putting a few select words together. Some are fully potty-trained while our daughter is still mastering that skill. Some are just learning to jump while our daughter would happily jump her way through life.
Don’t get me started talking about looks. Our daughter never lost the majority of her hair and I can’t bear to cut it quite yet so she’s got a full head of unruly locks while other girls in our group just barely need a hair band. She’s slightly taller than average with big feet and a long torso so she dwarfs some of the kids while blending in with others. We think she’s the cutest of them all, but we might just be biased.
None of us parents are the same either. We all have different parenting styles, discipline philosophies, and behavioral tolerances. We celebrate our children’s birthdays in different ways. We let our kids eat different things. We cloth diaper or not; we co-sleep or not; we work or not; we practice extended rear-facing car seats or not; we’re having another baby or not. We are so different!
Get all of us parents and our children together and amidst our differences we do have one thing in common. We love our children. We are all trying to do what’s best for our kids and our families. We’re helping our kids through their weaknesses and encouraging them in their strengths.
Every kid is so unique and that is great! A world full of people just like us would be so boring. Why would we expect any different of our kids? They are different and in their own way they are making the world more vibrant with their presence. Thank goodness that kids aren’t all the same!
Mandi is the Managing Director of Little Hands Can, a Eugene-based non-profit helping kids help others. She’s also a face-wiping, potty-emptying, lullaby-singing, horseyride-giving extraordinaire to her toddler daughter.