Isn’t it funny how two children from the same parents, raised in the same house under the same rules, can turn out so completely different.
This came to my mind the other night as I was preparing a meal — corned beef hash topped with a soft-fried egg and green peas on the side. That’s one of the only ways my youngest, he’s 18, will eat eggs. He’ll also eat egg foo yong — egg patties topped with an Asian brown sauce. Yum.
Other than that, he won’t touch eggs. Not in a house or with a mouse. Not in a box or with a fox. Not here, or there, not anywhere.
When the boys were really young, I treated them to a special helping of green eggs and ham accompanied by me reading Dr. Seuss’ famous book. I scrambled the eggs and turned them green with food coloring. I read with my best dramatic flare — facial expressions, hand gestures and all.
My oldest devoured the eggs and ham; I don’t think he paid any attention to my drama. My youngest gobbled up the rhyme and rhythm of the tale and left a full plate on the table.
To this day, my oldest, now 23, loves eggs and ham. My youngest, in addition to his egg phobia, won’t eat pork of any kind. But he can’t read enough books. He even walks with a book no matter where he’s going.
And then there are so many other differences: One is neat as a pin, the other is a pig pen. One is super-outgoing and a party animal. The other says he doesn’t care much for people and would rather stay home in his messy room, belly up to his computer researching, writing or reading.
One’s an athlete; the other, while he has an athletic build, is more the intellectual type.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that they are so different, that they are their own persons, so to speak, and that each is comfortable with who he is. I just find it fascinating that while we gave them the same things, each found something so different in those offerings and often took away things I hadn’t intended. I’m sure both are actually some combination of their father and me.
I think that is one of the things that makes parenting so difficult, that we never know how what we say or do will affect our children. There is no guarantee that what we might seek to shape in them will actually take hold.
You know, you set two kids in the middle of the floor with a pile of Play-Doh, and one tries to eat it, while the other makes cute little animal figures. Yell at them both for not cleaning their room and one cleans seeking your approval, while the other makes an even bigger mess just to be defiant.
I’m blessed, as I told a member of my church last week. God gave me good boys, and all I had to do was not mess them up. The worst that’s happened in all my attempts to be a good parent, disciplining and exposing them to new things along the way, is that I ended up with a gregarious, people-loving, creative neat freak and a fairly quiet, hard-studying, sloppy egg hater.