Monday, 21 January 2013

pure personality

Mid-way through the Christmas holidays I realised that I got my timing very wrong: to be in the last trimester of pregnancy during the hot, crowded, festive season and facing the daily challenge of entertaining two 5-year-olds was mildly exhausting - to say the least.
I know, I know, I must not complain as we do live in one of the most beautiful places on earth...I could have been trapped in a city apartment block with it snowing outside! I'm just not that good with crowds and traffic and sharing our "most beautiful place on earth" with the rest of South Africa - call me selfish. Anyhow its all over and life returns to normal. I can now, smugly, find parking at the beach for my morning walk after dropping the girls at school! And I vow to graciously remember this year- long privilege next festive season, when I am less hormonal - promise.
The great thing about the holidays and my enforced home time (I did not venture off the farm into the madness much) was spending more quality time with the twins. And as a result observing, with a bit more insight than usual, the developments in their personalities.
My father coined a phrase that I love to remember when it comes to inexplicable behavior: "pure personality". And that's just it, we are born with our personality whether we like it or not and no conditioning, discipline or conforming will change the essence of our personalities  We are forever doomed to deal with it's flaws and exalt in it's perfections. Seeing the way my children, born on the same day, under the same stars and raised in the same home, confront various challenges in such extraordinarily different ways confirms this to me each time.
One of the challenges they faced this holiday was learning to ride their bikes. One of them asked for her trainer wheels to be removed on day two and from then on, with the odd 20 minutes put in by Dad, went on to practice daily until she perfected the art of riding her bicycle, which brought her so much pleasure that she forgot all about using her excess energy on punishing me for attention: a valuable realisation on my part!
The other was very keen to try but as soon as she saw she couldn't immediately master it, she grew anxious and angry and gave up. This caused even more frustration as her sister was doing something she couldn't do - but she was be damned if she was going to fall around like a fool in front of anyone - rather ignore the whole project.
Many frustrated tears and tantrums were thrown, to which I responded with logic: "if you don't try, you won't learn," anger: "for goodness sake, either try or don',t but stop punishing all of us too!" and remedial teaching: "Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a twin sister..." None of the above worked until finally her stubbornness gave in and she agreed to let me help her. So, with preggi belly and all, I put in my time daily up and down the driveway and slowly her self-confidence gathered momentum until suddenly she realised "Oh, I can do this!" And she did.
I am so excited about this latest step in development as it gives them a huge leap in freedom and independence. It also confirmed, yet again that no two children are the same and as parents we have to continue to strive to meet their individual personality needs. I guess that throws the "parenting formula" out of the window and another reason why they don't dish out handbooks at birth!

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