Josh is quiet and studious. But goofy if he’s comfortable. Max is an extrovert who’s “legs hurt so bad” if he has to clean his room without someone watching him. The fear of being alone almost paralyzing. Anna is self-contained, responsible and creative. All so individual, and yet I see my habits, mannerisms, and beliefs reflected back at me in each one of them.
Scientists are still trying to determine the effect that genes have on personality, musical ability, athleticism and a myriad of other characteristics. The results are inconclusive.(Psychology Today, June 2013).
But, whether it’s nature or nurture, we see ourselves in our children.
Physically my brown-haired, brown-eyed, freckled children look nothing like me, and yet…
There was the time Anna yelled, “What the hell,” at an unsuspecting boy at the park who had copied her latest trick on the monkey bars.
How Josh clenches his fists and screams, “AAGGHHH!” when he gets mad.
Or when Max sweetly covers me with a blanket when I’m sick, kisses my head and says, “I’ll cuddle you for a minute.”
Their obsession with “Warning Labels for Stupid People.” can also be blamed on their mother.
Their Dad also stares back at me.
Key phrases, “I wasn’t talking mean I was talking firm.” are echoes of him.
Josh can become so absorbed in what he’s doing that only a direct assault will break his concentration, just like his Dad.
All three of their love of being in the ocean comes from their father.
It’s not just quirks and mannerisms that can be a reflection of a child’s parents. How he acts is a reflection of how we act toward and respond to him. What he thinks is important, what he knows – shows us our priorities.
Four-year-old Josh got up in church one Sunday in front of hundreds of people and said, “I know Jesus is real.”
Four-year-old Anna got up and said, “I believe Jesus is true,” amongst other things. She’s a little more chatty.
The oldest two asked permission to do it. It was self-motivated.
Four-year-old Max tells me he doesn’t like Jesus books.
“Why not?” I sit down next to him, a beautifully illustrated book in my hand.
He shrugs and runs off to play.
A large part of the difference is due to personality. Max likes to be on the move. His attention span a fraction of my other two children’s at his age. But my heart hurt a little. What could I be doing differently?
I reflected on how life had been different when the other two were younger. Less busyness, fewer friends close by, memorizing a scripture every month, in the hopes it would become a part of their heart, more Mom directed activities, more Mom time in general.
Now, I make sure that I take time to play with Max even if a friend is available. I started doing a brief joy school when it’s my turn to babysit him and his friend, instead of letting them run wild through the house the entire time – now it’s only half the time and everyone is happy. We started memorizing scriptures again and he is so proud of his accomplishments.
The other day at breakfast he told me, “Mom I just can’t wait to meet Jesus.”
In the end, I can only change myself.