Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Personalities

Poor Brendan has Jury Duty this week and is quite grumpy about being forced to give up his time and go down to the courthouse and sit. Yesterday he just sat, didn't even get called into a voir dire (that's the term for the process of interviewing potential jurors, isn't i? I'm too lazy to look it up). On the bright side, he gets $25 a day for his trouble.

When I asked him why he didn't email me yesterday--there's wireless access in the juror room at least--he responded that he just didn't think of it. I suggested jokingly that he didn't want any contact with the outside world to remind him of what he was missing. Turns out that's not a joke! That was the reason!

It's funny to me because I'd much rather vent and vent and rant and complain about it. If I was in the jury room today, I'd be emailing everyone in the whole world, Facebooking (which has lately taken a strange hold upon me anyway), blogging, researching, etc. Nope--not for Brendan. He wants to just hibernate somewhere deep inside himself until his ordeal is over for good. Talking about it at length doesn't relieve his stress--it adds to it. I'm just the opposite. I guess it's a good thing that he likes to hear me rant about stuff. :o)

After he left this morning, I got to thinking about how Ryan and Morgan are. Ryan is just like me. Morgan is just like Brendan. Both have been pretty much the same since birth--I think they come out with personalities, or certain tendencies that develop into aspects of their personalities. Don't know what to call it--psychology is not one of my things.

Ryan is ME. Hyper-aware and observant, a tendency toward worry and worst-case-scenarios and perfectionism, easily overwhelmed, takes himself very seriously (so don't joke about him--he hates it), and so absolutely certain of the soundness and logic of his every opinion the he becomes super-irritated when everyone doesn't just agree with him right off. Has lots of leadership/management qualities and tends to dream up amazing adventures for he and his friends to act out. Super big imagination. (Brendan--did I get us right?) Many of these qualities have upsides and downsides, of course. I think before I had kids I would have been hard-pressed to identify too many downsides to my perfect personality, but there's nothing like having a little mirror of yourself to help you see how just a teensy few of your personality quirks might possibly get on the nerves of others!

Morgan is Brendan. Not only does she look just like him, her personality is the same, too. Amazing ability to focus on a task to the exclusion of all else. And I mean ALL. Sharp sense of humor with a big dose of "teasing" in it. Happy-go-lucky for the most part (we often joke that Brendan, like Jerry Seinfeld, is Even Steven) but when she decides to be stubborn, she can out-stubborn Ryan any old day. She's also slow as Christmas and often has little sense of urgency about tasks, especially timed ones, which may develop into Brendan's Time Disability when she gets older. Her musical abilities are more like Brendan's. I'm very naturally musical, but in a technical reading-music kind of way. Brendan is more musical than I am even and can just listen to a song once and play it immediately on the guitar (but doesn't read music). Morgan's more like Brendan.

When Ryan gets angry or overwhelmed, he needs to talk and talk and talk about it in order to feel better. One of the things I learned from the book The Highly Sensitive Child is that it's often helpful to the child to allow him to vent completely in order to be able to let the anger go and focus on solutions. So the best thing you can say is "Tell me more." I need the same thing. If I don't feel like I've had my complete say, then I think about it all day long and imagine all of the things I wished I had said and am still residually angry hours later. But if I vent and rant and get it all out, then I can just let the anger go (assuming a solution to the problem has been reached, of course) and move on with my life. My poor kids though--they don't want to hear Mommy rant and rave ad nauseum, so I have to learn how to get it out without dragging innocent people along with me. (Hence one of the functions of this blog--at least you innocent people are here of your own free will and can leave if you like!)

Now that Morgan is 3.5, some more of Brendan's personality traits are showing up. When Morgan gets upset, she runs and hides and needs to, well, hibernate until she's all better. Any attempt to get her to talk before she's ready makes her lose her mind. She'll talk about it, but only AFTER she's done being angry or sad. Just like how Brendan doesn't want to talk about Jury Duty until it's over.

I think it's very interesting!

We still don't know about Sean yet (jury's still out, ba-dum-bum!). The personality qualities are there, but it's often easier to pinpoint only in retrospect. So far, he's pretty chill, except when he's mad, he's MAD MAD MAD and there doesn't seem to be a fussy, pre-fit, gonna have a freak-out warning period like the others had. He goes from smiling to screaming in about 3 seconds. So that'll be different. The MAD doesn't just disappear either--while he's calming down, he has to fuss and tell you all about it--more like Ryan and me. He'll actually nurse and fuss at me at the same time if I'm too slow (in his opinion) to feed him, just to make sure I know that he's not happy with me. Very funny. And he's the most social of all of my babies--very conversational in a baby kind of fashion, and openly engaging others with batted-eyelash-y smiles. A real charmer. Just don't make him mad. :o)

We were discussing kids this weekend with some friends who are contemplating the prospect. I certainly don't think that having children is some kind of necessary experience that everyone should do. But I'm a different person since I had my kids--and better, I think. Because having a child forces you to clear up your inconsistencies and irrational notions in a hurry, since you need answer difficult questions and are a model for all kinds of behavior that they will repeat right back at you. And when you are faced with your own personality in all its glory on a daily basis, it forces you to introspect and think about and maybe change some habits or behaviors that might not be all that attractive, desirable, or (gulp) rational (I'm only guessing here, since of course I'm perfect and NEVER get on anyone's nerves!). I'm not sure I would have figured some of these things out as quickly if not for the kids. Again--not saying it's the only way to go if you want to make improvements on one's own psyche, but it sure works dramatically!

That's all for now. Brendan, I'd love to hear what you think, but I understand if you don't want to answer from the juror room, I really do!

2 comments:

LB said...

"And when you are faced with your own personality in all its glory on a daily basis, it forces you to introspect and think about and maybe change some habits or behaviors that might not be all that attractive, desirable, or (gulp) rational".

Yikes! Don't I know it!

My oldest daughter is loud, opinionated, pushy, always right - in short, she's just like me. But I keep telling her, "it took me a good 30-35 years to perfect that, kid. You've got to take it down a notch or make sure you can back it up!" (I'm quite sure my mother would disagree with my age estimate, but there's no need to tell my daughter that.)

The clarity of the mirror one's children can provide is amazing if not downright scary.

Principled Parent said...

I agree with you about being different once you have a child. I would say that I have improved. Having a child really forced me to scrutinize what I say and do.

I also think that becoming a good parent means making decisions based on principles so I've really had to work at taking every situation back to the principles that the concretes depend on.