I do a lot of talking about Sam. Sam said this... Sam did that... Sam's so cool...Sam's driving me crazy... If you read my facebook page or my blog with any regularity, you could be forgiven for thinking he's an only child. John flies under the radar a lot of the time.
I love my boys equally, but differently. And any mother who says otherwise is lying to you and herself.
There are certain personality traits that all four of us here at Chez Vandeputte share: independence, introversion, creativity, quick tempers. These are the traits that drew Tom and I to each other and we have passed them on to the boys.
It seems I spend a fair amount of my life fixated on the fact that Sam's temperment is nothing like mine. John, on the other hand, probably couldn't be more similar to me if he tried. He's a quiet and unobtrusive child, a watcher more than a doer, generally even-keeled, understated with his affection, sweet, and more to the point, easy for me to take for granted.
Today I took him to the pediatrician for his new-to-the-practice physical. I really like our new pediatrician because he sits down and really tries to get a good complete picture of the boys, including their strengths and weaknesses.
John was his typical self--he sat calmly on the table for most of the visit, first coloring in the coloring book I brought along, and then turning the crayons into train cars and pushing them while narrating what the "train" was doing. He was quite personable and chatty with the nurse. And when our doctor arrived, he answered all his questions and told him stories about "getting hurt on Daddy's boat" (months ago) and "going to the mailbox" (today). He could tell the doctor all the colors in the crayon box. He could run across the room, hop on both feet, climb onto the examination table, name all his body parts, his colors, his numbers, and every type of train car in existence.
This is the child who was born with torticollis and hypotonia, who went to physical and occupational therapy weekly for the first four months of his life. This is the child who could not breastfeed, who could not turn his head, who could've potentially had developmental delays without the right intervention.
So I desperately wanted to take the credit when the doctor said to me, "Wow...just wow... Considering all you've gone through with him, you've done a great job. He's doing awesome."
But the thing is, I really and truly can't.
He started potty training with gusto overnight--and now a few weeks into it he will run to the bathroom alone, undress himself alone, sit on the potty alone, pee alone, dump out the potty in the toilet and flush it alone, and then re-dress himself. Alone. I didn't do anything. I just put the potty chair in the bathroom and remind him to go occassionally, when I think about it. The day we moved him out of his crib and into his toddler bed, he took his first nap without so much as a sniffle, stayed in it without complaint, slept the night in it, and acts like he's slept in a big boy bed his whole life. He's napping and sleeping nights as well as he ever did in his crib, and never broke stride. And again, I didn't do anything except stick the bed in his room.
Yes, I can take credit for his (generally) good manners. His knowing not to dart into traffic. The fact that he is fed and dressed, clean, and has ample opportunity to play and be creative every day. But beyond that? Nope. Nothing.
A lot of the credit goes to Sam. Say what you will about his intense, over-the-top, histrionic personality on his bad days--he loves his baby brother with an intensity and passion that is as maternal and ferociously protective as mine. So much so that he becomes deeply concerned when he meets other children who do not have their own "baby" at home. He has told me on one occassion, "John is my baby" (And I imagine John will still be his baby when he's twenty-five.)
Sam and John fight over toys, but they rarely fight each other. They are never too mad to play together, and are each other's best friends. So when Sam does something, he'll encourage John to try it too--from learning the alphabet, to pushing him down the stairs in a laundry basket (*sigh*). John frequently tries things and I tell myself, "He'll never be able to do this," and invariably he surprises me.
The other day, I left some craft supplies on the table, and John wandered over, picked up some fishing line, and started stringing beads on it. The line was .5 mm thick and the holes in the beads were microscopic. As far as I know two-year-olds aren't supposed to be able to do this. They aren't supposed to know all their colors, or be able to count to twelve, speak in long, complex sentences, and have a vocabulary on par with their four-year-old brother's, either. But Sam is a great role model with infinite patience when it comes to teaching John, playing with John, showing John how the world works--because he, like me, thinks John is pretty amazing, too.