Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two Peas in Two Pods

Two little girls. Same parents, same house, same nurture, same nature.

Totally different kids.

I was marveling over that today. They are both awesome kids, obviously. They both have things that drive me absolutely crazy, naturally. They tussle over the same toys and love when they get to wear the same outfit, but most of the time, they are different as night and day.  Things Madison was doing at this age Reagan has no interest in, but Reagan is doing other things that Madison didn't even realize existed at this age.

Seriously, it's like I have to parent in two totally different ways, because what works on one doesn't work on the other. Let's look at the facts.


Madison is a creature of habit. She wants her meals at the proper time, a mid-morning snack and a snack after rest time. She'll eat almost anything. She loves to cook. Dessert follows dinner and she gets upset when it isn't offered. She will eat pretty much anything if she knows she's getting dessert.

I don't know how Reagan survives, because I'm pretty sure she doesn't eat. Actually, that's not true. She does eat breakfast (most of the time), she'll drink smoothies and she will eat pretty much anything dairy or carb filled. She does not eat dinner. I am not exaggerating. It does not matter what I am serving - she does not eat dinner. In my attempt to bribe her to the table she gets crackers on her plate and she won't eat them if they are part of dinner. I don't get it. A promise of dessert means absolutely nothing. I have no idea how to deal with this because none of my Madison tricks work. (By the way, her pediatrician is pretty unconcerned because she's growing steadily and healthy. He says she's two. I hate that diagnosis).


Bribery and threats work pretty well to keep Madison in line. When we were teaching her how to clean up her own toys we used mini m&ms. Do a job, get a candy. Done. Now she gets a sticker on a chart for doing her daily chores. A sticker. And she's loving it. It matters to her. When she wants something "big" (and by big, I mean something like an upgrade to an app on the iPad) I can usually ask her to earn it by doing a "big" job, and she'll do it. Rewards work.

And the threat of time out keeps her behavior in line. If she starts up the defiant attitude, I start counting to five. She knows that if I get to five, she sits. She'll pout through one and two, but 90% of the time, when I get to three, she's falling in line. She might still be pouting, but she'll obey. And if she does go to time out, she comes out absolutely repentant. Apologies and hugs and immediate improvement.

Bribery and threats do not work on Reagan. At all. She does not seem to grasp the concept of a reward - big or small. Her lovey is a now battered baby Anna doll. A few months ago, I noticed baby Elsa in the store, so I snatched it up and put it away for future gifting. We decided that it would be the "big girl" present for potty training. Reagan wants Elsa, but when we tell her that Elsa is for when she uses the potty, she loses interest. Completely. Candy bribes do not encourage her to clean. And sticker charts are downright laughable. If she doesn't want to do something, no amount of praise, sugar, or sticker is going to motivate her. The only way she'll do it is if she wants to. Right now, at just over 2 1/2, she has absolutely zero interest in potty training, and with no interest in charts or rewards or even pleasing those around her, I'm going to have to rethink my game plan.

And time out? She'll sit there, but it has zero impact on her behavior. If she's actually sorry (like if she's hurt someone) she'll apologize, but no amount of time out will make it happen if she's not. She does not leave the mat repentant and cuddly. She leaves the mat ready to go back to exactly what she was doing before she landed there in the first place. I'm getting creative trying to figure out how to deal with this.


Madison will try anything and everything, and most of the time, fall in love with whatever she tried. I mentioned earlier that we ended up not able to do art group this fall because of her hard core dance schedule. Today, the group was able to meet in the morning and we went. All day long she's been talking about how seeing her friends and doing art was the best part of her day.

Then she attended her hour long tap dance, came home, and tapped around the kitchen for another half hour because dance is her favorite thing.

She loves art. She loves dance. She loves gymnastics. She loves cooking.

When we do her school stuff, she wants to do more reading because reading is her favorite. Then math is her favorite. Then writing is her favorite.

It's gotten to the point where I'm hesitant to introduce any additional activities because I'm terrified she'll love them and want to add them to her bursting schedule.

Reagan is just as willing to try anything...on her own terms. Today, she painted longer than any of the other kids in art group, but back when we were regulars, she was a participant about half the time. She loves to dance, but dance class was a disaster. She's a climber and a tumbler with crazy strength, a daring spirit and amazing aptitude, but gymnastics class was basically a giant tantrum. Where Madison is a "teach me" kid, Reagan wants to experiment with the world on her own. She is not remotely interested in participating in a class - even a toddler exploratory one.


Now, before you think I'm complaining, both girls go to bed fairly early and sleep through the night. And although Reagan was a little trickier than Madison, she was never a "problem" sleeper.

Madison likes to be cuddled. As an infant, she loved being nursed or rocked to sleep. Now, she likes you to read to her in her bed, then cuddle, then her music on, her door cracked and her lights dimmed, but on. She falls asleep quickly, and most of the time will stay in her bed after waking up in the morning until someone acknowledges her. She gave up her nap, but she'll hang out in her room for about an hour in the afternoons, playing quietly in her bed. Her worst sleep trait now is that when she's overtired, she will get super clingy and cry through the steps of getting in bed, moaning that she doesn't want to be alone. Then she'll usually fall asleep while you read. And once she's asleep, not much will wake her until she's ready to be up.

Reagan is also fairly easy to put to bed, but she's a little more detached. She'll climb in without complaint, and also likes to be read to, but she likes when you sit next to her bed and really only likes a quick kiss and hug. Even as an infant, she didn't like to be rocked or nursed or cuddled to sleep. Put her down and let her do it when she's ready. She's much clingier during the day than she is at bedtime. She rarely falls asleep quickly, but will chill out in the dark for hours after her bedtime, no matter what time bedtime is. However, once morning (and morning can begin pretty much any time after 5:00 am) she is up and will find someone to play with. There's no gradual wake up process. The day begins once the sun is up (or even when it's not quite up yet). We've tried all kinds of tricks to keep her in her room until a "reasonable" hour, but remember, she's not motivated by much.

Everything I thought I knew from Madison has to be dealt with or approached completely differently in Reagan. Is that better? Worse? Both? Neither?

Honestly, I think Reagan is the way she is to keep me on my toes. She's there to remind me that parenting one child does not make you an expert in anything. Heck, parenting two doesn't either. It's a constant learning process, full of experimentation.

Speaking of comparing my two kids, about a year ago one of my old posts about the difference in their sleep habits was selected for a humor anthology about sleepy moms, and anthology number THREE for this mom (not that I'm counting!) was published this week!

So if nothing else, this kids give me great material to write about.

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