You know that phrase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"? Chad and Riley are both very much like me - so much so that we often butt heads in mutual defiance and determination. But sometimes the apple falls off, rolls down a hill, drops into a river and floats out to sea, ending up on some other continent entirely. Such is the case with my oldest daughter.
For me, raising my kids means reminding myself (and my husband) constantly that they're individual people, with personalities not at all dependent on their upbringing. I guess it could be a source of extreme frustration (well, sometimes it is), but for the most part I am just awe-struck. I'm often amazed at how children raised in the same home can not only be so unlike each other, but so unlike anyone else in the house. One could spend an eternity pondering where our personalities come from and what aspects can alter them.
I'm starting to dread the words, "When I was a kid.." that Vic is so fond of uttering when discussing Chad. He mentions how driven HE was to work hard, and take pride in what he works for. I answer with, "He's not you. He's not like you. He doesn't think like you," etc. Chad must see the big picture and how he personally fits into it before taking any pleasure in work. He's just that way. Then an hour later, I'm complaining to Vic about how Cadence won't stand up for herself. She's the complete opposite of Chad, putting the needs and even wants of others before herself, and often being taken advantage of because of it. She's an alien to me. I cannot possibly imagine that line of thinking. She... Well, I don't... How can she... -- But she's not me. She doesn't think like me.
In their schooling, Chad's Big Picture thinking makes him incredibly perceptive and is a driving force to his learning. Cadence learns everything set before her in a calculated and robotic way, out of a need to please me and earn my praise. Chad always asks why, and many hours each day are spent in discussion instead of "real" schoolwork. Cadence never asks why, and is likely to get several lessons ahead in a subject before admitting she really doesn't understand it. Each child's learning must be approached from a different direction. Countless time is spent reminding Chad to focus on the task at hand instead of wandering off into left field; and also in reminding Cadence that my love is not contingent on her performance.
I think this is one of the most important, albeit hardest, lessons I've learned from my kids. The apple might end up in Timbuktu or resting against the trunk of the tree it fell from, but the soil can still be rich. Give them what they each need, and the seeds can still grow. Help them along the way, and the tree can still be strong and healthy. Even if it eventually bears oranges.