It never fails to amaze me how kids from the same family, raised the same exact way, given the same affection, same consequences, same rules turn out so completely different. As time goes on, I’m seeing just how completely different my kids are in some ways. I can’t always verbalize it, but I can see it. Sometimes it gives me anxiety. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes I just sigh, toss up my hands and realize I can only do so much to shape them.
I used to think Ryley’s affectionate nature came from his NICU time. Once he was stable and off the oxygen, the nurses used to hold him a lot. When he came home, he did not like to be put down. He spent a LOT of time in the Snuggie just so I could get stuff done and still satisfy his need to be close. But he would go to anyone and everyone. As he grew up, that expanded. He’s a hugger. And he’s a talker. I was horrified the first time he just walked up to some random person in the mall and started telling his life story to a complete stranger. (We quickly reined that in). But I love that he’s affectionate. He’s getting to *that* age, so he’s a little less huggy than he was, especially if any of his friends/teammates/classmates are around, but I can still count on him to climb into the recliner with me for some tv or reading time. He will carry on a conversation with relative ease and is very social.
Grace seemed to follow in Ryley’s footsteps. She’s such a girly-girl. She didn’t like to be held as much when she was a baby, but the girl is full of hugs, kisses, hand-holding, and snuggles. And boy howdy is she a talker. She can be shy, but if someone asks her a question, she answers. We don’t have to tell her twice to give hugs and kisses when we’re leaving family – she just does it. She’s just a love.
And then there’s E. What a different kid this one is. He LOVED to be held as a baby. He was so happy and affectionate, and he chattered away with whoever was in the vicinity. But as I’ve said before, once he turned three, so much changed. Now, he only talks when he wants to. And if he doesn’t really know you, forget it. I’ve watched friends and family really work at drawing him out, to no avail. I wouldn’t say he’s shy. That does NOT apply in the least. But it’s like pulling teeth to get any conversation out of him, to the point sometimes he’s just downright rude. But I had to totally laugh the other day. (Cousin) M was visiting a few days ago, and asked E a question. Ethan just looked at him and without skipping a beat, looked at M and said, “I’m not a talker.” M just looked at me, and we both just cracked up. But that’s just it. Ethan is not a talker. He’s not super affectionate either. If forced, he will give the sideways hug, if you can get him to do even that. Non-family members can completely forget it. He’s having none of it. He’s very independent, very stubborn, very happy to play completely on his own most of the time. He does not like to be around a lot of people. He does not like noise. He will sit with me to watch tv, he will hold my hand, and he does require a hug from mom before heading in to school. Heck, sometimes he even comes into our room in the middle of the night just to get a hug from mom.
Ethan is so different than the other two. I don’t understand how that happens. Sometimes it makes me feel bad. I stress that I’ve done something wrong somewhere along the way to make him unaffectionate. I get embarrassed when people try to talk to him and he just flat-out ignores them, refusing to respond. But I can’t fight it, and I can’t force him. The harder you push this one, the less likely he is to comply. This is just Ethan. And he’s not a talker.