Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Night & Day

I love that my kids are good friends.  I know I've mentioned that my sister and I weren't close growing up, but I knew that many of my classmates were, in fact, very close friends with their siblings.  I always had the notion that I would give birth to two boys who would be best friends.  They would share bunk beds and a closet and a love of team sports.  When I got a boy (who couldn't care less about sports except swimming) and a girl, I was worried.  I thought they wouldn't get along, that they'd have nothing in common, and that they'd spend a good chunk of their waking hours at each other's throat.

I got that partially right.  They do have sibling spats, and I have actually seen one child grab the other by the throat on occasion.  But in general, they do get along.

They also have absolutely nothing in common.

It's gotten to the point where I don't dare ask a question with two options and ask them to choose one together.  I don't think it's possible for them to agree.  Mexican or Chinese food, museum or zoo, stay home or go out, milk or water, black or white... it doesn't matter.  An argument will ensue.

To some degree, I get it.  Neither of them wants to be seen 'copying' the other.  They are highly individualized little beings living in a highly individualized little world, and they are both desperate to be unique.  They're both stubborn.  They both want what they want and neither is willing to give an inch to the other because to concede defeat would be the ultimate sacrifice, and despite all my talk about taking turns and sharing, the idea of "being the bigger person" has definitely not kicked in.

So now, since I'm me and I worry about things over which I have absolutely no control, I worry about whether they'll get along as adults.  It's already becoming an issue of fundamental beliefs.  Yesterday, M2 was sitting on the couch before bed and declared, "Mom, M1 told me that God isn't real because you can't prove it, and I don't believe him because I think God *IS* real... how can I prove it?"

All I could think to tell her was Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  I explained the best I could, but really, my mind was a blur and I'm not sure that I made any sense.  M2 seemed contented, though, and I assured her that her belief in God was just fine, no matter what her brother said... and today I had to have a chat with M1 about faith systems and the fact that no matter what he believes, he can't prove HE'S right any more than SHE can and that above all things, I expect him to respect others' beliefs.  And that means if his sister or a friend or anyone takes it into their head to believe in anything he considers odd - for example, Zeus or Amun-Ra or the Wizard of Oz - he will respect it and shut up about it, period, end of statement.

He told me he still believes there has to be a god, but it frustrates him that nobody can prove it.  I quoted the above Bible verse to him, too, and told him I didn't care what he believed as long as he truly believed it... but that he might as well be familiar with the Bible anyway, because somewhere, someday, he's going to run across references and people who take verses out of context and he's going to need to know how to refute it all.

I think he got it.

I must admit I expected to have this conversation with him at some point, but I thought it would be closer to the age of 19, not 9.  It proves to me that he really is a scientist at heart, after all, and in his mind if it can't be proven, it must not be real.  (This had already led to an argument with his good friends about the existence or non-existence of Bigfoot; now we're just upping the ante, so to speak.)

Anyway, even though these two kids have been living with the same two parents since birth and had very little in the way of different experiences in upbringing, I think nature sometimes does win out over nurture.  I just hope their equally loving, passionate little natures bring them closer as adults instead of pushing them apart!

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