The funny thing about business travel is …wait. Strike that. Let me begin again. (can you tell it’s been a while?)
The business traveler
As a parent of young children, I find myself wondering what to do with myself once my day wraps up while traveling on business. Perhaps if I dig deep enough, I can extract and exhibit slivers of my former child-less self. Maybe I can unearth my extroverted former self and make my way to the hotel bar and strike up a conversation with other travel-worn individuals until I grow weary enough to collapse on my monolith-slab hotel bed. Instead, I take myself out to dinner (see below photo of travel indulgence), check email, get some school work done until my brain shuts down, and now I’m here at 10:18, staring at the walls. Do I flip through the hotel channels hoping to find something riveting on HBO? Knowing that I’m perpetually behind on research do I force the issue and soldier on? Browse the interwebs in search of a minivan? Go to bed in the hopes of inching my way toward catching up on the thousands of lost hours over the past couple of years? Endless possibilities that somehow inevitably lead to…blogging.
The comparison game and/or trap
Lately I’ve been witnessing nascent personality differences and character makeup emerge in each of my girls. Because they are both little females, I don’t have the tricky business of relying on gender constructs and assumptions in evaluating their character makeup. Let me break it down:
Thing 1 is ultra ‘girly’, which I’ll leave open to interpretation. She loves the Disney Princess marketing machine, and the first words out of her mouth each and every morning are: “Mom/Dad, can I dress up?” To which we usually acquiesce. She plays well with others and is eager to please both adults and friends. She is also very sensitive, prone to cry at the slightest injury or offense. She is incredibly focused and patient, but typically on things that interest her like art projects, puzzles, etc. Over the years, we have acquired toys that “go” as wifey likes to call them: scooters, cozy coupes, and other such things. All wasted on her.
When she plays outside, there’s plenty of running around, but nothing sporting. Catch, stick ball, kickball…all lost upon her. She’d much rather chase bubbles around or do flips on the rings on her play fort.
She’s petite and eats just enough to sustain her small frame.
For as long as I can remember she’s barely clung to the bottom of the growth charts. Then there’s the clothing. Thing 1 insists on wearing only dresses and resists all form of leg coverings, with the exception of tights. Even leggings are a tough sell. I can only imagine she’s going to be into makeup before long. God help us all.
On the other hand, Thing 2 is an assertive little brute. We constantly call her our ER kid on account of her complete lack of regard for boundaries or danger. Of course part of this may be that we’ve relaxed somewhat as parents too, but there are clear differences. She is bold and fearless, and much less attached to her parents. I often joke that if I turn my head for half a second she’s not only already out of eyeshot, but probably wrapped up in some kind of mischief (or electrical cord). She’s already demonstrating some athleticism. When our friend comes over with their 11 month old, Thing 2 regularly wrestles and pins her to the ground. I even caught her sitting on her once! And then of course there’s the mad foot eye coordination skills.
She’s tough as nails though, and probably reinforces our lax supervision. The other day I watched her run full speed into the edge of our dining room table, bounce off of it, and pick herself up to continue her pursuit of the dog. Had that been Thing 1, it would have been a three alarm crisis, rife with tears, screams, and of course bribes to put and end to the misery. I put her in a dress the other day and all she kept pulling it up, trying to take it off and/or alternately chewing on the hem. She’s much more at home in a pair of pants and a loose fitting shirt.
Thing 2 also loves food and is not picky. Some meals she eats more than Thing 1.
I strive to be mindful that this is dictated by DNA, not that somehow one of my kids is determined to look like one of the blob-like figures in the Oatmeal. Some of my readers will recall all too well our little explorer tackling her own adventures like the dog door below.
Where am I going with all of this conjecture and comparison? Aside from the fact that personality and character is evident as young as age one, I think part of what makes this all possible and perhaps intriguing is the fact that my kids are the same gender. If Thing 2 were a boy, it would just be assumed that gender is related to the difference among our children. “Of course your boy likes soccer and your girl likes dress up, it’s instinctive.” I can now officially call that out as BS. Just like if I had a sensitive and focused little boy who loved clothes and dress-up and an athlete boy I wouldn’t make the same mistake. We all know better, of course, but it’s an easy trap. I love that my kids are distinctly different people and it totally puts to rest in my mind the whole nature/nurture debate. Kids are who they are, and as a dad, my job is to set reasonable boundaries and help bring out and reinforce the best elements of their character while also empowering them to turn their weaknesses into strengths.
To conclude, I leave you with the final comparison: 1st Birthday Cupcake Experiences!