It’s funny how, at such a young age, I can already see the difference in personality that Daniel and Emma have. I don’t know if it’s a girl / boy thing, or the difference in being first or second born. I am sure there are all sorts of theories about how your position in the family determines of affects so many things. I’m not so interested in that, as I am observing the differences in my own children, those sibling differences that as they grow older will help them forge their own paths in life.
Daniel is an observer. He is precise. He is tidy. He likes things just so. Often telling me to ‘put this away please Mummy’. After reading his bedtime stories his Thomas book goes back in the box and the second book we read always has to be left in the same place. He doesn’t wade in. He stands and observes then joins in. He is quietly confident, rarely needing my assistance, but not hesitating to ask if he does by gently offering his hand or pulling me over to the activity he needs assistance with.
He devours books. Endlessly. He could spend every day reading book after book after book. In the latter stages of Emma’s pregnancy we spent many an hour of each day cuddled up reading. A period of time I will remember forever and will cherish. He is never more content than when snuggled up with a pile of books. And he brings ever more complex stories to me. Gone are the days of reading simple books and hello are the longer and more detailed stories.
Emma however, well, Emma… where do I start. She is strong willed and fearless. She is often found stood in the middle of a table at playgroup, stomping those tiny feet and voicing her displeasure at something! She is the polar opposite to Daniel in so many ways. She never waits on the periphery, she is in, holding her own with the big kids and that has been the case for as long as I can remember. She is determined to be involved and her capacity, like any toddler, for learning is enormous. She very much learns by copying the actions of those she sees around her. Which is testing when she sees her elder brother being a little on the cheeky side!
Emma finds being read too tedious. She much prefers to explore books herself, not wanting to follow convention and read from the first to the last page, why when you can explore in order you wish! She is a ball of energy and is stubborn. Every inch her mother’s daughter.
However, this week I have noticed a big, and important similarity. Compassion.
We share our little home with two cats. Dear old Jasper and Finlay. Both the cats are very good with the children, but keep their distance, preferring to roam around outside until the children are safely in bed! On Tuesday evening Finlay came in at bedtime and I thought he was limping, but he seemed to be okay by the time he had had a bite to eat. However yesterday morning he was looking very sorry for himself, holding his right front paw high in the air and not bearing any weight on it. He was very lethargic so I decided a trip to the vet was in order. Finlay had come to sit with me and I explained to Daniel and Emma that we had to be very gentle as Finlay had a poorly foot.
I hadn’t expected them to understand and had decided I’d let Finlay hide in my bedroom, safely away from toddlers. But they understood. They knew Finlay needed different treatment. They gently stroked his head and back and gave him a gentle kiss then left him in peace to snuggle up with me.
After breakfast this morning Finlay had snuggled down onto Daniel’s bed (which isn’t normally allowed). Daniel was most excited and came running out to tell me that ‘Finlay Cat sleeping on Daniel’s bed mummy!’. Again I explained that Finlay had a poorly foot and did Daniel mind if Finlay had a little sleep on his bed? He disappeared away whilst I dressed Emma and when I went in to get Daniel ready he had placed his soft toys next to Finlay. A small but significant gesture.
When Finlay was wailing to be let out into the garden (which we can’t do until he is better) Daniel was over to him saying ‘you can’t go out the back door Finlay Cat. You have sore foot.’ Emma headed over with the toys she was playing with and placed them in front of Finlay, unprompted but showing that early sparkle of compassion.
They are only babies themselves, but my heart could burst at the concern and compassion they show for Finlay. I love that my children are so fiercely different, but I’m proud that, in terms of their love and compassion, they are so so similar.