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When did you first see who your child is as a person?

There's a line in Lionel Shriver's book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, where she says there's a moment where you meet your child for the first time- and it isn't when they're born.

When Claire was an energetic, ebullient toddler, I assumed she was like me. An extrovert.

"Claire is an old soul," people said. What does that mean?

When Claire was 4-1/2, we vacationed at the Oregon coast for a week, staying in a rental cabin on the Pacific Ocean. Someone had built a large driftwood fort on the beach. Claire spent hours in there.

"Want to play Frisbee?" I asked, trying to lure her out. Not now.

Finally, I realized that Claire is an introvert. She was extremely articulate at a young age (1-1/2). People were amazed. Claire has a genius IQ like her mom, she said modestly.

Two days shy of eight months, she pulled herself up to a standing position in her crib for the first time. Immediately we put safety latches on low kitchen cupboards. Claire figured it out in two days.

When Claire pulled herself up, the latch was at her eye level. She realized if she put her finger on a latch and pressed down, the door opened.

At first she didn't want us to know. If one of us walked into the kitchen, baby Claire looked at us and casually closed the cupboard door.

That's when we caved. Put plastic items, the colander, pots and pans in lower cupboards. She could bang to her heart's content. Dangerous cleaning fluids and chemicals went up high.

LiterateHiker 9 Apr 8
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13 comments

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1

I always knew that my two daughters were persons in their own right, not just an extension of me. I never expected either of them to follow my path or to emulate me. I tried to guide them, but they had to find their own path, their own way of interacting with the world.

@wordywalt

You missed the point.

Of course I saw Claire as a unique individual when she was born.

To understand who your child really is takes time.

@LiterateHiker Who your child is evolves over time. He or she becomes the person he or she is as a result of the interaction of genetics, experiences, and relationships. We cannot know who a child will become from the very beginning.

1

I honestly think my daughter, Lorrae, showed her personality almost from her first breath.
She was a very long baby at birth and every time they put her into one those cribs for new-borns her head would touch the top end and feet would touch the bottom, being wrapped tight as 'little' bundle, like hospitals do,did NOT suit her at all, she'd cry, squirm, wriggle and not settle down until they realised that she needed 'space to move,' as soon as they moved her into a crib for babies over 6 months of age, she settled down and went to sleep.
From then on her strong willed personality just kept on exerting itself and getting strong, by 12 months she had by-passed trying to crawl and decided that rolling across floors was much easier and probably more fun, once she discovered her legs and feet were for standing up on all she needed was our pet Whippet to act as a support so she could pull herself up, use him as a walking frame and start walking where ever it suited her.
By the time Lorrae was about 2 &1/2 years old her grasp of language and spelling was almost unbelievable as was her ability to count, in order, up to 15, open doors on cupboards and even to turn the television on or off, that is when her 'person' truly showed itself to everyone, I'd getting swamped with hugs and kisses, demands to be where ever I was and inundated with question after question as to what I was doing,etc.
From there onwards she became a truly curious person wanting to know about everything and anything, watching children's television programmes was not in her interests at all, she preferred to watch anything that was well beyond her age group and do things with me that would involve anything that meant getting covered in dirt, grease, oil or anything else just so long as she was doing alongside me.
Yes, she would wear dresses BUT only on special and certain occasions, the rest of the time it was cut down overalls, shorts and either t-shirts or singlets with boots made for boys and not girly shoes as she called them.

1

I don't think my two kids could be any more different in personality. My daughter Amanda was happy and extroverted from the jump. I can hardly remember her crying as a baby, and as a toddler, we had to watch her like a hawk because she would run up to anyone and try to hug them. When we would go to McDonald's to take advantage of their play area, she would have all of the other kids organized to play, "her way", within minutes, a natural leader. As a tween and a teen, you couldn't take her to a dinner party or any gathering of adults without her trying to be involved in every conversation.

Connor, on the other hand, cried a lot as a baby. He hid from any interaction with strangers behind his mom, and if we had house guests, he would hide under a blanket with his eyes closed for 30 minutes to an hour before being comfortable enough to interact or play. He actually got worse as a teen where if we were having a house party, you would be lucky to see him for 5 minutes before he disappeared back into his room. Amanda seems very driven to You would think that the two of them would have nothing in common, but they actually get along extremely well, even in their 20's.

1

Claire sounds like me.

My daughter was precocious and has most of my intelligence but lacks my non ability to see that I may not be able to do something. I can always figure it out and get it done no matter what. But she read at age two to the point you could show her the word in any book and she knew what it said.

My son, however, has my mechanical ability but he tends to be lazy. He didn't do much with words for a long time because of repeated ear infections and hearing loss due to fluid.

They're fun people though to be around!

I think you always see them as a person but it takes awhile to figure out who and what that person is.

4

I don't have children, but my sister has two daughters and we shared a house for a while when they were young and we'd both split with boyfriends at about the same time. Now, my sister is not academic at all, whereas I am and had only recently graduated at that point and was still good at all the mathematics and stuff I've since forgotten; so, every evening, I would help my nieces with their homework.

In addition to the homework, I took an interest in what else they'd learned that day and would ask them about that. One day, the oldest niece (who was then eight), told me as we did her multiplication sums that she had also been learning about Jesus but, in her own words, "it was really boring and I prefer learning about real stuff."

I knew that day that she was going to turn out OK. 🙂

Jnei Level 8 Apr 8, 2020
2

You never see who anyone is as a person as we all play different roles as we go through life, playing to different agenda with different masks.

The most honest position is the new born. After that layers of expectation are grafted on.

1

Too bad you didn't decide to have more kids. The world would be smarter and better.

1

As infants. My very young, non-talking, non-crawling son watched me from his bouncy seat as I was dressing to leave the house. Unlike my elder daughter, he showed no interest in speech, and did not do cute baby giggles. On a whim, I grabbed one article of clothing, like a sock or something, and without a blink, put it on wrong, like on my head or an ear, without any indication that anything was amiss. He totally lost it! Very loud guffaws of boyish laughter. So, not only did he already understand simple order (what clothes go where), but found the mix up hilarious. I knew from then on, he was going to be fine. Now, he’s 20 YO and very intelligent, still with a wicked sense of humor. (:

Zster Level 8 Apr 8, 2020
2

I tried to understand my kids growing up. When you have more than one it’s easier to see the differences and understand who they are. I could go on about this but you probably don’t want to read it all. The Birth Order Book helped me understand the differences. Some are just straight personality and some seem to be tied to the family dynamic. Lots of variables

3

From early infancy I knew that my son Neil was self sufficient and confident. He neither needed a comforter (dummy), a comfort blanket or a thumb to suck when he was put down to sleep. He did have a teddy and an assortment of other animals, but no special attachment to any. This was quite different from my other son Graeme who was three years older, and who was distraught when his special satin bound blanket was either being washed, or ultimately when it disintegrated and was reduced to a few scraps of satin edges, and then they got lost completely. By the time Neil went to primary school I tended to forget that he was three years younger than Graeme because he seemed to be almost the same age in size and maturity.

When we went on holiday driving around Europe on our summer vacations, Neil was the one who would step forward and introduce himself to the Italian or French children and ask to play with them on the beaches. He was the one whom all the boys at school wanted to be best friends with, and later at Grammar school, whom all the girls rang and asked if they could come round to compare homework notes with. He was always generous and caring, and very loyal to his friends, even now his gang from school still keep in touch and meet up periodically, even though they live scattered around different parts of the UK. He was captain of the school rugby XV, and by age 16 was 6’4”with athletic build, which I could also have predicted, because my husband was two inches taller with the same build. He is now 40 and a father of two boys of his own, a supremely confident, capable, and caring father, husband and son. I knew at age one or two that he would be a man of character, strength and self confidence and I wasn’t wrong. Most of all he is kind and generous of spirit, and it’s that character trait that I’m most proud of.

4

My oldest returned from school complaining that her stomach hurt, eventually describing a girl in kindergarten trapping her against a fence and punching her. F - I shown my daughter a defense tactic move, and suggested she use it. And, wrote her teacher ‘a note.’

The next day, “That worked!” ‘The note, or the move,’ I asked? “The move!” “She left me alone…” Her teacher and I talked, soon. I knew she was like her dad, a ‘counter-puncher,’ though ready to take em on..

The Second; as the older continued to dominate while they vied for my attention, my youngest (by 2 years) kept her composure ..if on the edge of tears. As an adult, she continues to understand the bigger picture, and masterfully navigates it. With impressive discipline and maturity, I call/ed her ‘my solid citizen’ 🙂 ..may have got that from her mother ~

Varn Level 8 Apr 8, 2020
3

When, as a toddler between the age of 2 and 3, she admitted to doing something she shouldn't have done knowing full well she would be in time out. If memory serves, it was digging in the dirt of a houseplant and making a mess on the carpet. Honesty and integrity must always overcome the impulse to cover up or lie, and our daughter was rewarded for telling the truth by avoiding time out--but she got to help pick up the mess! 😉

2

I think kids have their moments. Does she still possess introvert-ness up to now? ... or is it the case you have not yet seen the extroverted side...yet? My kids and I possess both traits when it suits us 😊

@TimeOutForMe

At 30, Claire is mainly an introvert. She needs time alone to process and ground herself.

Like me, Claire presents both traits. I am mainly an extrovert, although I need alone time for reading.

@LiterateHiker
People said I was this overprotective mother hen and my boys would end up feeling too sheltered.
...well they were wrong, they ventured in their own ways and besides the academic and sporting abilities they held, they attracted a crowd at parties with their good sense of humour and jokes. They can however be introverted at times ...so ya I reckon they can be both reserved and extroverted when required.

Someone with both would be an ambivert. 🙂

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