Tuesday, March 18, 2014

case study

I was talking to one of my sisters recently, who is currently taking a child psychology class. I don't know why I never thought to take one back in my college hopping days. (I attended one..two..three colleges total. Not for extra degrees either. No doctorates here.) Psychology is fairly fascinating to me. Child psychology would be even more so, I think.

Anyway, my sister was telling me that personality formation generally takes place within the first three years of life. In other words, you can tell what kind of person a child will be - independent, generous, controlling, et cetera - by the time they're about three. Nurture notwithstanding, of course; traits can be attained through example and instruction and reinforcement, just as manners or reverence or whathaveyou can be learned and taught.

I had never heard of this three-year statistic, but danged if it doesn't make total sense. Jordan-girl, for instance: 100% who she is today as she was from hour one. She appeared physically fragile at birth

but it seemed as if she would never suffer an ounce of dependence in her life. She was alert, loud, willful and wonderful. Brown eyes that bored right to your soul, she had - and has.

Jordan of yesteryear has seemingly only changed physically. Oh I know, we've hit a lot of milestones since then. She converses, skips, hops, jumps and sleeps in a big girl bed. But she

is still she

And West-O. You want to know my first encounter with ex-utero Weston? They laid him atop me in Recovery after my c-section, and he LATCHED. Like, hard. He found what he wanted with no direction and just knew he was home.

6 months later, if he's not within a couple of feet of me, he's fretful. The boy is a sweet, good-natured, dependent lover of his mama.

But more fascinating to examine is the sibling dynamic. Would their relationship be so totally different if they were both boys or both girls? Or if Jordan had been a boy and Weston a girl? I look at Jordan, maternal and concerned, but SO in charge and sometimes controlling nearly to the point of bullying. Every morning Jordan asks if Weston can play with her in her room. She pulls out the kitchen set for him and sits next to him and flips through her books. But if he grabs something that "belongs" to her, watch out boyfriend. I've seen many a (minor) abuse delivered that Jordan has had to answer for. Meanwhile, Weston looks on adoringly and confusedly while Jordan plucks a hair from his head or pinches a fingerful of his fat. He loves unconditionally, as does she, but she is the Alpha in the relationship.

*Somehow Jordan has become hilariously honest. If I don't happen to see something mean that she's done, but I hear Wes whimper, I ask her pointblank and she answers with soulful browns: "I pinch him." or "I pull his hair." Even though she gets punished, she never fails to deliver the truth.*

Occasionally their relationship reminds me of one in my previous life....

Fortunately, my brother Luke is a happy exception to the "your personality at three is your personality forever" rule because he was a BEAST. And I was definitely a Weston. I just sat there smiling like a three month old idiot as he sat on me and watched my face turn red to purple in consternation. Ok Jordan's not quite like how Luke was, thankfully, but she does like to exercise power and authority, as he did. Mostly they're in love with each other and there's minimal refereeing involved but we'll see how it goes once Weston discovers how to use his significant weight to his advantage. Unless he just turns out to be a gentle giant, which is entirely likely considering his passive personality.

So tell me of your children's relationships with each other. Or your sibling relationships. I just think it's so funny the similarities and dissimilarities depending on age gap, sex, which sex came first, and all that. Am I the only one?


  1. ohhhh this stuff fascinates me. I think it's actually easier to see more of my older daughter's personality now that I have another kid to compare her to. Somehow I think my husband and I both thought that my younger daughter would be so much easier (because she has been in some ways) all around, and we keep getting surprised when she shows her little temper. Grace is definitely the oldest child (read:bossy) but I am curious how much of that is innate and how much of that is learned, since my husband and I are both oldest children. Our house is full of opinion. ;)

  2. I pinch him - that cracked me up! My bro and i are quite different however neither of us were really a bully. Haha.

  3. Not the only one! I think genetics and personalities and psychology and development and, apparently, the word "and" are all really cool.
    I also really appreciate Jordan's honesty. I hope she continues that (for the most part) the rest of her life. I've never really understood lying and my mom taught me at a young age how to break the truth to people or not lie to them. For example, when I was a youngin' she asked me if I liked her outfit. My response: "I like YOU."
    Can you please clarify which one is you in that cute photo of the Devil Child and Recipients of Physical Abuse?

  4. I have two boys, 2 years and 2 weeks apart. And boy are they different. Our oldest Easton always has been fiercely independent, honest and funny. Since he was 6 months old, a smile or laugh was gold to him! Along came our now 1 year old Hudson and we had no clue what to do with him. He is mama attached (in the best ways), much more go with the flow but also has a flare for the dramatic (cue the fake cry when his crazy brother is within a foot of him). They are best brothers even when claws come out (something I understand being 1 of 2 girls who had our fair share of fights!) but I love their bond and am thankful for the gift of siblings!!

  5. I think I'm just going to stop writing about my boys because you pretty much just described them :) Except Ryan's abuse did not use to be minor. At least now he says, "Put Conor down, pleaseMom," rather than a big ole smack.