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The Joy of Parenting Kids With Wildly Different Personalities

A mom on how birth order impacts each kid's behavior

Published on: April 22, 2019

Mom with kids in the park

I often feel like a mother hen constantly counting her three chicks. At home, this is an easy task, as they are somewhat confined. But it becomes a whole different task to monitor all three (very different) kids when we go to the playground.

My firstborn

My eldest is the responsible one. If there is any signage whatsoever, he will read it and report back to me: “This playground is actually meant for kids over 5 years of age”; or “Mama, did you know that we are not supposed to climb on the outside of the play structure?”; or my personal favorite, “Mama, there is a Land Use Action Proposal. You should come read about it!”

Then he seeks out other kids his age and plays age-appropriate games. I know he will keep one eye on me the entire time we are there. If he were my only child, my life would be a piece of cake, though probably not as interesting as it is now. 

My middle child

Which leads me to the perils of bringing my middle child to a playground. First, he likes to see what his older brother is doing, and that’s usually fine for a few minutes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t find the Land Use Action sign nearly as riveting as his older brother does, so he’s off like a flash of lightning. Then I hear screaming. At first, I can’t tell if it’s motivated by joy or sheer terror, but as I look up, I see it is a combination. Ah, yes, he has climbed the outside of the play structure. He is breaking the very rule my oldest child clearly explained to us just five minutes earlier. I run like a cheetah to pry him off and lift him down to safety.

It’s just a matter of time until his next dangerous endeavor.

After a quick but meaningful lecture, he is off and running. It’s just a matter of time until his next dangerous endeavor. I’m pretty certain he knows exactly what he is doing and that he takes some secret pleasure in making me sprint, climb and just freak out in general.

My youngest

Uh-oh. Where is my youngest? I lost sight of her while I was lecturing my middle one. She could be anywhere. Playing with much older children? That would be the best-case scenario. On top of the play structure that is intended for kids ages 5 and up? Perhaps. 

Although she is only 2, she has no fear. She just cares about keeping up with her brothers. Perhaps she is eating a cookie out of a garbage can. Not impossible. She has done that, too. Oh, there she is... sitting on that green-haired woman’s lap, touching her false eyelashes. I hear her say, “I like you” as she is reaching out to stroke the woman’s glossy green hair. I quickly run over and pull her off this patient, emerald-haired woman’s lap and mutter some apology. I can’t stay to chat, because I need to get my middle child out of a tree. At that point, my oldest will be ready to go home since he has now completed every available activity in order and according to the rules. 

We all pile into the car, I secure them into their respective places, and I drive around aimlessly until my youngest starts singing too loudly, or my middle one starts the knock-knock jokes, or until my oldest tells me I am going the wrong direction and instructs me how to get home.

Although my life would probably be much easier with one, or even two, I can’t help but cherish the chaos all three bring to my life. They bring balance to each other and joy to me.

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