The thing that blows my mind, though, is how unique these little men are. They are both in turns utterly ridiculous and utterly adorable - not to mention utterly unmanageable - but their fundamental natures could not be more different. My eldest is sensitive, changeable, thoughtful, flitting cautiously from one thing to the next. To watch him is to feel stab of pain in the heart: something so delicate could be knocked down so easily. And then there's the young one: irrepressible and overwhelming, like a tidal wave. Or a bull. And our lives are the china shop. He leaves an endearing path of destruction in his wake.
I couldn't help but wonder, with my firstborn - was it something we did that made him so fragile? Or is that just the way he was born? I was a sensitive child, either ecstatic or despairing, with little in-between. So says my mother, anyway. It seems like my firstborn is my mimic. I can almost feel his hurt when he gets a sharp word or a disappointment; I remember what it was like to be that small, to feel like the whole world was one big "NO," and never understanding why. He needs very, very careful handling.
The little one is just a mystery. My husband and I look at him and think "Where the hell did you come from?" Like a ray of blazing nuclear sunshine born into a family of brooding artists. Everything rolls off him. He's a force of nature. And in his way, he is much more difficult to handle, because of his utter lack of caution. He just goes and goes and goes, and we're left to run along behind, hoping to catch him on the brink of destruction.
Still, even when calamity ensues, the kid seems to come out okay: gets up, dusts himself off, goes on about his business while his parents nurse their frayed nerves in the rubble. Trying to deal with these two divergent personas is a recipe for a shattered psyche. The adults in this family don't know whether they're coming or going most days. And yet the boys...they're the best of friends. They seem to just take their differences in stride. Maybe we should take a lesson from them.