Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not like the other

When Adriana’s first Christmas rolled around, I expected the whole thing to just blow her away. I expected her mind to be boggled when we brought a real live tree into the house. I expected to be shooing her away from pine needles and ornaments and lights constantly. But none of it happened. She didn’t like the way the tree felt, so she didn’t touch it or anything on it, and at the time I attributed her matter-of-factness about the tree’s presence to fact that everything was new and unexpected for her, so having a tree in the house wasn’t actually all that unusual.

Because of that experience with Adriana, it didn’t even occur to me to expect Christmas to surprise Lyra this year. But Lyra is a very different child. It’s her first Christmas and she’s pretty much exactly the same age Adriana was three years ago, but she is not just taking this all in stride. When she saw the tree on top of our car she pointed and shouted, and then kept on pointing. When it was in the house she toddled right over to it and kept patting the branches. As soon as I put the lights on it, she was tugging on the cord and tasting the bulbs. There are a few soft ornaments down at her level that she keeps taking off and bringing to me. For the first few days, even when she was playing with other things, she would occasionally turn and point and exclaim “Oooohhhhh!” Now it’s been over a week, and she’s not quite as amazed, but she still is excited to see it every morning when she gets up.

It has me rethinking Adriana’s initial reaction. When Adriana enters a new situation, she has a tendency to sit back and watch. When I signed us up for Music Together this fall, I knew that Adriana wouldn’t participate the first few classes. It took a month or so before she wasn’t sitting against the wall or clinging to me for most of the class. Lyra, on the other hand, watched the other kids intently, grabbed at instruments, and was climbing into the teacher’s lap the very first time. Maybe Adriana wasn’t just taking the tree in stride; maybe she just needed time to soak it all in. And of course she didn’t mess with the tree. This was a kid who had to be coaxed to crawl on grass, wouldn’t play in sand until she was almost two years old, and freaked out the first time she tried finger paints. Pine needles were too new and strange a texture for her, and since she never put anything in her mouth (not even food, it seemed) my worries about her swallowing needles and gnawing on lights and ornaments were totally unfounded.

I’m glad that now she loves the tree and the decorations, and I’m happy I know her a little better now, so I can know what to expect. Every kid is different, and I have my own example right in front of me. It’s strange to think that babies have their own personalities so soon, but I have evidence of those little personalities right here.

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