I know there has always been a debate if a child’s characteristics are more nature or nurture. For over twelve years I have watched my son learn, grow, and slowly become human. Let’s face it they are hardly human when they are little…they are more like sponges and then demons and then slowly they become more human. I am watching him become a man and there are times, I will admit, that I look at him and wonder whose child he really is. We are so different in our personalities that there is no possible way he came from me!
I am a free spirit. I grew up riding my horse, climbing trees, playing baseball, reading good books, catching fireflies, and being young. Today I am an intellectual who loves a good book and would love nothing more than to live in a European village somewhere and forget the rest of the world even exists. I love fantasy and imagination and truly enjoy being eccentric! I guess you could say that I haven’t really decided what I want to be when I grow up yet and that’s just fine by me. I write. I write until my fingers ache and my head throbs. My family always refers to me when it is time for creativity – I paint and draw and craft often. I can’t grasp mathematics and physics is way too much for my brain to grasp. History is more my thing. I think we can learn a lot from history and the future is too uncertain for me to be comfortable with. I believe in the zodiac and the paranormal. I am a wonderfully weird creature and I embrace it.
I raised my son with my quirkiness. I have dressed him up, put weird hats on his head, spoke to him about gnomes, and told him fantasy stories from a little boy. I have laughed with him and truly am a very laid back parent. However, he is left brained. He’s an analytical, mathematical, scientific being. He doesn’t believe in the paranormal and fantasy is just that – fantasy! He’s a lover of physics, algebra, chemistry, and order. He hates change and embraces the stability of life. He is my polar opposite in many ways and for some reason that works. I don’t know why but it does. We mesh. I love that he is a little geek and that he sticks to his beliefs. I love that he gets technical with me and when he tries to use logic to reason his way out of trouble! So sometimes I have to stretch my imagination, I have to test my brain and see the ways we are so much alike!
In some ways I guess you could say he is all me. He likes to laugh and making others laugh is always his goal. He likes to tease. He uses sarcasm and wit to create joy to those around him. I guess in those ways we are very similar. Some of my nastier habits he got as well. While the words we use can double you over in laughter they have been known to sting. And much like myself, his young self hasn’t learned to have an off switch yet. He likes to exploit people’s weaknesses. If you don’t get sarcasm he will lay it on so thick just to get a rise out of you. I think our biggest similarity is the fact that we love with all of our heart. We won’t show our hurt but we feel it deeply. We will be the first to help if we can and the last to leave you. We will hang on until there is absolutely no other choice but to walk away. The adult me looks at him and sees all the areas of his personality that people will exploit. His belief that people are generally good will hurt him, like it did me. His deep and sincere love of those around him will kill his heart someday. I just hope and pray that he will find someone, whoever that person may be, that will protect his heart the way I have all these years.
So how do you raise someone that is your polar opposite in some major ways. Here’s my suggestions, whether the child psychologists agree or not:
- Let them be themselves – don’t force your ideas upon them
- Don’t expect to always understand
- Embrace their loves – Einstein is now one of my favorite historical figures (who knew?)
- Learn what you can about their favorite things
- Make their loves readily available – you may LOVE football but if your son loves trains instead than get him a train set!
- Experiment with your child and dare him to try new things
- Never ever ever judge them – it’s your job to support not judge their choices
- Allow them to make those choices
- Understand that they are not little you’s. They are their own people.
- Finally, embrace that your life is going to be chaos…it’s part of nature…and in the end maybe you will realize you love science too!