Saturday, June 7, 2008

nature or nurture

Good afternoon everyone,

Kendra found Layla’s first pajama outfit and put it on her shoulder last night. I couldn’t believe how tiny she was compared to how big she is today. We made silly comments of ways to keep the twins exactly how they are today because we are enjoying both of them so much. They giggle and smile, take three naps per day, stay exactly where we put them, don’t eat much, travel well, and are easily amused. I know everything will continue to change as they grow up, but it’s going too fast for me over the past few weeks. Sitting up will be a good milestone, but once they start crawling around and figuring out how to put everything in their mouth, the whole game changes. The first night they slept all the way through was glorious and marked the end of the beginning. Every situation looks different when you are actually in it than it does when you are reflecting on it as the past. Thank God for grandparents. They provided the extra sets of loving arms we needed to survive during those crucial first two months. Then the storm blew over and the proverbial sun began to shine again. We are both getting comfortable with the new idea of what normal is and happy to have some consistency from day to day and week to week.

In some ways I agree that every child is different, but what I really find is that every parent is different and their approach to the child (or children in our case) has a big impact on their perspective. For example, I have one friend who tells me about the “terrible twos” and how incredibly horrible life is when they are that age. Another friend said from age 2 to 3 was the most fun age of the child’s life. So what role does nature vs. nurture play? I’ve been asking myself that for a long, long time. How much can the parent’s attitude and interactions really play into how a child grows up and turns out?

The situation that really leads me to lean more towards nature playing a larger, uncontrollable role is the observation of my friend, Dorr, and his 4 kids. Here’s an old picture of him with his third child just so you know who I’m talking about.

He is an engineer who is a methodical, consistent, good natured disciplinarian who I KNOW raised all of his children exactly the same way. However, each of his kids is completely different in every possible way. What they like to eat, how they dress, how they talk, how they look. It’s not that I expect all 4 kids to be exactly like Dorr, but I did expect they would be more similar to each other IF nurture really had any impact. Seeing his kids makes me think there is not much I can do to shape who they are or how they turn out. Yes, I know I provide principles and guidelines and a role model, but I’m talking more specifically about how the children act. I’m OK with allowing our twins to be who they want to be so don't think I'm out to control them. I just don’t want to waste my time trying to shape certain aspects of their life if it is not going to make a difference. I’m hoping to spend my time focusing on what I CAN impact and shape and accept those aspects about them that I cannot change.

The phrase I hear from time to time, “she comes by it naturally”, implies Kendra’s personality traits and idiosyncrasies are magically transferred from her parents during birth and are unavoidable. One example is Kendra’s sense of direction and memory of driving directions. Having her in the car is like having Google maps (a.k.a. “the yellow pages” for you old folks) at your finger tips. If I ask, “Kendra, where are the closest KFC restaurants to the intersection we are driving through?” She will immediately rattle off the exact locations of all KFCs within a 5 mile radius of our location. It’s almost scary how she is able to do that. Opa Burgess (Kendra’s dad) claims that is “his” trait and he passed it down to Kendra, which I absolutely believe. On the other hand, Nana Webb (my mom) and I get lost in our own bathroom and can’t find our way out of a paper sack. Along with all of the wonderful “nature” related things she passed down to me, that is one of the less desirable traits. Because of this dichotomy of directional abilities I’m curious to find out how Layla and Easton will turn out…

I know there are good and bad traits. I wish there were a way to strain out the bad and pour in the good for our twins so they both get the great asptects of Kendra and me while being immune to the negative aspects of our personalities.

Anyway, last night on the way to Judi and Roger’s house for a get together I had the unfortunate task of keeping Easton and Layla awake for the 45 minute drive. Their eyes started blinking more slowly and the yawns were frequent only 15 minutes into the trip so I eventually gave up and let them snooze. We do our best to keep them on the defined schedule, but it’s not always possible so we go with the flow. Easton eventually dropped his toy as he drifted off to sleep so I took the opportunity to put it on his head like a hat to demonstrate how completely asleep he was.

When it came time to feed the twins, everyone else was in the kitchen getting snacks and talking so I held the twins while Kendra made their bottles. I decided to keep Easton and Layla in the position they were already in and feed them both at the same time so Kendra could get something to drink and talk. Judi saw how funny it looked and took this picture:

A funny thing we noticed about Layla is that she wore the hair off the back of her head! Apparently this is a side effct of her being so active and curious about her surroundings, The whole back side of her head has no hair from her turning her head side to side so much. She doesn’t want to miss anything so she’s always looking around and moving her head. What a curious little girl we have…

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, so I am directionally challenged. But you got your yearning to know all about stuff and your love for nature i.e. plants and animals from me! It is so cool to read about your parenting exploits and adventures!
Eli has four baseball games today so we are trying to fit them into our schedule. B.J. was able to be at the 11:00 game. I might just babysitt Daphne here while the rest of the clan go to games.
Dad said he tried to get on Skype but couldn't seem to get it going.
Love ya,