They both came from the same womb just 477 days apart, and they both share certain faint physical traits with Melissa and with me. But otherwise, is there any reason to believe they have the same parents? Sure, Sofia looks like Melissa in some ways and maybe like me in a few minor ways (lucky girl!), and Liam shares some of my physical traits and a few of Melissa’s as well.
Yet for the small ways they look like their parents, they look absolutely nothing like each other. Liam is blonde with a round face, while Sofia has brown hair (not much of it) and an oval, pudgy face. Liam has always been small for his age – 10th percentile in weight as of his last doctor’s visit – while Sofia has always been average to above average in size (50th-75th percentile in weight). Liam has mostly rough, dry skin, while Sofia’s has always been smooth and soft. Sofia has always had the little baby fat rolls, while Liam never really had them. Sofia has a big, open mouth smile with dimples, while Liam has more of a beaming grin.
Yet beyond their static physical differences, they are also dynamically disparate as well. Sofia never stops moving. And no, that’s not hyperbole: the little wiggle-worm has been in perpetual motion since conception. Melissa felt her moving non-stop in utero, and she hasn’t slowed down, even after birth. It doesn’t matter if she’s eating, sleeping, or just sitting in someone’s lap, some part of her body is moving: twisting her feet at the ankles, reaching for some irresistible object with her hands, or generally contorting and twisting her little slinky of a body. She wakes up in such radically different positions and locations in her crib from where we put her down for the night, we are suspicious she makes late-night excursions around the house. She has been rolling over since before she was 4 months, and now at 7 months is basically crawling. Sofia has no problem with tummy time, and if she sees something she wants across the floor, she at least makes an effort via rolling, pseudo-crawling, etc. to get it.
Liam runs and walks around like any 23 month old boy, but he can also sit still for long periods of time. He is perfectly content to sit in our laps and read books, watch Sprout TV, or teach me how to use the I-phone. Perhaps simply savoring his food, Liam has never fidgeted considerably while eating. Neither has he felt any sense of urgency in gaining mobility. He rolled over for the first time at 4 months, but rarely did it for the next few months, and did not crawl until he was 11 months. He took his time walking as well, refusing to go it alone without the security blanket of an extended parental finger until he was nearly 14 months.
Sofia enjoys eating. She has always breastfed well, and as a result we waited until she was nearly 6 months old before feeding her solids, whereas with Liam we started at 4 months. It has always been a bit difficult getting Liam to eat: he is picky and impatient when it comes down to sitting down for a meal. He prefers to eat his food on the go, or at least graze during the course of playtime. And he has always had certain likes and dislikes, and he can be fickle: a banana-avocado combination (“bananacado”) was initially positively delectable, but over time morphed into something repulsive. He was never a big fan of yellow squash or anything green. Now ice cream (helado) is a favorite, along with bread (pan); vegetables are unpopular. Sofia just likes food. Any food.
Their vocal emanations are also near-opposite: Sofia doesn’t “talk” much, Liam never shuts up. Indeed, our 23 month old is so loquacious I’m really curious to find out what we’re missing when he finally develops the ability to enunciate fully. He carries on a running monologue from the moment he wakes up to the moment he falls asleep. Liam is not “awake” until he’s talking. I’ve gotten lectures on all sorts of things, most recently the mechanization of a lawn mower. Granted, there were some fuzzy moments, but he clearly said “gas” while pointing to the gas can, “round-round-round” while pointing to the engine, “push” while pointing to the handle, and “grass” to top it off. And after we pick him up from the nursery after church, there’s no need to wonder what he was up to: he gives us a play by play all the way to the car. This is nothing new. From 2 months old he was “cooing” incessantly, and from 3 months old was prone to fits of hysterical peals of laughter. Only when in the company of strangers does he become somewhat reserved.
Sofia chuckles…occasionally. Mostly she smiles and lets out excited little squeals in the heat of the moment. She hums with approval while eating, and whines in disappointment when she isn’t being fed fast enough or when the meal is done. She lets out a frustrated “ma-ma-ma” or “da-da-da” when she’s not perfectly content, which is rare. For all her love of movement far beyond that of her brother, she is relatively mute compared to his verbosity.
And of course their personalities couldn’t be more different. Liam is always into something. He’s inquisitive, curious, and patient when it comes to figuring things out. He is also finicky, picky, and has definite ideas about the way things should be and has no problem vocalizing those ideas. He has a
bizarre obsession fondness for vacuum cleaners. He likes pushing them, he likes watching other people push them, he likes turning them on and off, and he likes detaching the hose to get those hard to reach places. And he likes actually vacuuming. If the vacuum gets put away, a fit will follow. And speaking of fits, Liam throws them. Often. Indeed, if there’s one area of clear precociousness, it’s his penchant for epic tantrums. Melissa – and me, but mostly Melissa – has done a great job disciplining and correcting him and he has improved considerably, but there was a time when it looked the Terrible Twos were starting very early. Yet he is also extremely loving and gentle. He loves snuggling and loves doing things with us: he likes reading with us, playing with us, and teaching us things. Liam is very sensitive, and always try to “comfort” us and Sofia if he senses we are unhappy. Most of all, he just enjoys being around his Ma-ma and Da-da.
And in that regard they actually similar: both of them love being around us. Neither of them tolerate being “on their own” for more than a few minutes. Yet even with us, Liam can still be prickly at times. Sofia is just happy to be there. She is extremely generous with her wide smiles, and really only cries if very hungry or tired. For the most part she is profoundly content as long as she’s with someone. She’s happy to bounce in her jumper, to play with her toys, to hang out on her play mat, to eat, to sleep, and she’s even fine with riding in the car now. If Liam isn’t perfectly content he has never been shy about letting us know; Sofia has seemingly never been discontent.
Yet for all their many differences, I could not be more proud of either of them. I love Liam’s talkative particulars, and I love Sofia’s jolly equanimity. They are both wonderful children in their own way – truly gifts from God. Just as racial diversity gives us a glimpse of heaven, so too does the varying personalities of our children. I can only imagine what a 3rd would be like…
M. MANDY SCRIPSIT