Before I became a mother I had this notion that a newborn child was like a lump of clay that could be molded in my loving hands. Yes, I was a firm believer in nurture over nature. Two children into the experience it became clear to me that children are born with much of their personality already hardwired. In contrast to malleable balls of clay they seemed to be nearly completed marble statues. The best I could hope to do was to soften the edges.
I was in the car today with Amelia. She doesn't speak much these days given that her nose is buried deeply into her Nancy Drew books. As such, I spend much of my driving time in a state of cogitation.
I was thinking about how very different Amelia and Aidan are. They are different in nearly every way. She is fair; he is dark. She is following Bill's growth curve while Aidan follows mine. She loves books and writing while he prefers legos and implements of destruction. She is easy-going, and he is feisty. The list goes on and on. Sometimes it is hard to believe they share genetic material.
I was trying to come up with a way to summarize the differences in their personalities. It occurred to me that, if Amelia and Aidan stumbled across a pile of dung, Amelia would look at it and say, "Great! Fertilizer." She always looks on the bright side. And Aidan? He never minces words and calls it just as he sees it. He would look at the steaming pile and say, "No, that's a load of shit."
Something about this image made me laugh hysterically. I was laughing so hard that Amelia began looking at me as if I were deranged. I finally had to admit to her what I was laughing at after making her promise not to use the word "shit." As I sit here writing this, the image oddly gives me some amount of peace. Whatever happens, Amelia will turn it into something good, and Aidan will deal with it honestly and openly. He won't be afraid to say that life had been unfair. But, ultimately, I think that his realistic nature will allow him to move on, knowing that sometimes "Shit happens."