The North and The South

My boys are polar opposites. And it’s not like one takes after me and the other is the spitting image of John; they both have qualities that resemble each of us. But still, they are nothing alike.

Take this morning for example.We were at the doctor’s office because Thomas had been sick and I thought maybe it was strep throat. On a whim, I took Henry along (and by whim, I mean I decided in the school drop off line). So there we are in the exam room and Henry starts acting like a “boy” (stereotype) and saying gross things like, “What if we have to get a shot in our eyeball?” and then, “How do they rip out your tonsils?”  Thomas, on the other hand, calmly told us, “that’s enough of that.” Specifically, it was tonsils thing that sent him over the edge. Unlike his brother, Thomas has an extreme aversion to talking about disgusting medical procedures (which he gets from John, who will practically throw up if you tell him you twisted your ankle. Don’t even try to explain a paper cut).

But it goes beyond just their general temperaments–Henry is perpetually smiling, happy, relaxed, and also hungry, in a constant state of motion, and dependent on a lot of my personal attention; Thomas is serious, tense, curious and also independent, imaginative, and self-sufficient. Henry’s favorite things to do are: cuddle, eat and play, (in that order), while Thomas’ are: read, invent and paint. Despite their opposite personalities, I might reasonably expect them to have something in common; but no. Unless you count arguing–they are both good at that. ha! There may be a few other things, but you get the general idea.

Even the way they handled their identical diagnosis (strep throat) was opposite. Henry ran all over my house playing army men and rescue heroes, asking for snacks and telling me stories every 5 minutes; Thomas went directly to bed where he slept for 3 hours.

Many of my friends have boys who like to play video games together, play on the same sports teams, etc. My friend Erin has three boys who will actually pose for a picture together–smiling!  My boys are alternately  1) a neat freak, who keeps his room like an army barracks but happens to personally be covered in donut crumbs and 2) a germ-a-phobe with severe personal space issues, who saves trash in his bedroom. I’m not sure there is even a dollar amount that could convince them to put their arms around each other and smile for a photo.

Which just makes me wonder: are they even related? (before you start speculating–yes, yes they are related. we buy our milk at the grocery, thank you very much) Is it possible for each of them to be so much like John and so much like me, and end up being SO different?

But they do have one thing in common:  A blend of each of them, and with so much in common with both of them, their sister is the tie that binds. That has never been more clear to me than today–the first day I have spent alone with my two boys since August 31, 2005. All day I marveled at their differences. The moment she walked in the door from school, my polar opposite boys came together in a concentrated effort to make her laugh and to gain her favor (and yes, she knows her power).

The result is all three of my children playing together. Now we’re just like one big happy border state.

brotherly love, circa 2004

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