Two Very Different Children

I don’t often post things on here that are really personal, and I don’t usually seek advice, but I know that I have some people reading that may be willing to share experience and advice.

I’ve been blessed with two very different children. Liam, my older son, who is 6, was born quiet and serious. He barely made a sound until he was 2 years old, when he suddenly started talking in complete sentences. He generally prefers to play by himself, coming up with complex adventure games or drawing out mazes/making up stories. He sometimes comes off as a little awkward around other boys in the community who are into bikes and wrestling so he doesn’t have a lot of friends though he tries to share with them about his adventures and creations. He doesn’t go out of his way to communicate with others (Mama’s shyness) and sometimes when asked simple questions (like how old are you?) hesitates and then comes up with some intelligent answer but not normally how one would answer (like I am half of twelve, or I’m 1/4 of 24). So yeah, totally wonderful but shy and a little “different”. Morgaine, who is 4, is a complete social butterfly. She’ll talk to anyone. She has a killer smile and dimples so everyone is immediately taken by her (and aren’t afraid to tell her how cute and wonderful she is). She really does light up a room. Unfortunately though, I think this is wearing on the whole family.

Because of her “cuteness” she gets an incredible amount of attention when we are out. Everyone wants to talk to her (and then tell me what a wonderful blessing she must be to me). They’ll have a 10 minute conversation with her with lots of compliments thrown in, and not really talk to Liam. I’ve had people ask Liam a question and if it takes him more then half a second longer to answer than they think it should, turn away without waiting for him to reply. I’ve had people walk away from him while he was talking to them. No one ever compliments him or tells me how wonderful he is (note that he is always around when people are gushing about Morgaine). He’ll talk to people and they’ll all but ignore him. We were getting reading for a prince and princess tea party this spring and both kids were really excited. We went to Value Village to pick out a dress and a nice “knight” outfit. I found a cute little dress for Morgaine and the perfect handsome vest/pants/while shirt for Liam and we were standing in line to pay. The lady in front of us struck up a conversation with Morgaine about her dress and the party and Liam kept trying to talk to the lady, too, to tell him that he was going to be a knight. She finally looked over at him and he showed her his outfit and excitedly told her that I was going to make him a crown and all she said was “oh,” and went right back to talking to Morgaine. The lights went out of Liam’s eyes and I wanted to SHAKE her and tell her how wonderful my little boy was (and I am tears as I type this because I love him so much).

Morgaine also has the attitude that she’s cute and can get away with just about anything because of her cuteness. This is a whole other issue but I want to put it out there because I am struggling with it right now. I don’t find her cute, anymore. I find her really difficult to deal with. I don’t like people with a smug attitude and I HATE seeing it coming from my FOUR year old. Honestly, I don’t feel all that blessed by her (at this moment, though I certainly LOVE her). So if there is any advice on dealing with that as an extra issue, I’d love to hear it, too.

My current issue is that I went to register Liam for drama class this weekend. I figured he’s enjoy it because he has an excellent imagination and I really wanted him to have an extracurricular activity and didn’t think sports would be his thing. I took both kids with me to the registration and when we went to pay for the lessons the fellow (a lovely, animated man) asked who the lessons were for and I said they were for Liam. Then he asked about the cute little girl with the big smile and said they’d LOVE to have her. I told them that she wasn’t old enough this year but we’d seeing for the next one. He and Morgaine started talking animatedly about her imaginary dog, Purple, and of course Morgaine gets right into it and is her animated excited self and Liam’s trying to get a word in but no one’s really paying much attention to him. They talk for a good 10 (at least) minutes and the teacher who has been watching calls me over and says “You know, I would LOVE to have Morgaine in my class. She would really, really love it,” and knowing she would and still not having found an activity for her, I sign her up as well. Now, I have both kids in the same class in another instance where Morgaine can outshine her brother. I think that it is a really good group but I still fear that Liam will get left behind.

I am terrified that having a sister who gets so much attention is wearing on Liam. He seems less and less willing to participate in things or even try to talk to people and often expresses to me that any of his “problems” are Morgaine’s fault. How can I make him feel better about himself? Is there a way I can get people more interested in Liam? Is there a way that I can get people to STOP complimenting Morgaine ALL THE TIME? I think it is nice that people like her but I don’t think it is particularly good that she hears about how beautiful she is all the time (because really that is what they are complimenting….her smile, her dimples, her blue eyes, her dresses).

What would you do? Have any of you dealt with similar situations? (I’m even going to put my e-mail out there in case anyone would prefer to e-mail me…’s

Thanks for listening….

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12 Responses to Two Very Different Children

  1. Risa says:

    Sweetie, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I can hear your pain and heart ache even just reading your story. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be. I fear my kids in the middle get left behind so to speak…Others look at the oldest and then the youngest. I think they do really need their own thing. It sure sounds like you have a brilliant little mind on your hands by the way. Do you bring these issues up with your doc at all….just another opinion or advice is all I was thinking. Maybe a more laid back sport..well, at 6 I guess they don't get into too much. Boys are harder. What about Karate or Tae kwan doe??? Self defense class or something of that nature. I know it's a bit different, but it helps with accountability, building sef-esteem, respect and so much more. It's really good for kids who are more timid and shy. It helps them feel a sense of accomplishment. I will think some more, but those are my thoughts right now. I get what you are saying. I feel for you and understand your concerns. Keep your chin up and hang in there. Love and hugs,Risa

  2. MeritK says:

    I am praying for you. It is tough being the Mom, but God always gives us wisdom when we ask and I know that is where you will put your trust. I also have a child that started out as shy. I think your instincts about getting Liam into Drama are right. She was very similar to your little guy. Shy and serious and clever. (she still can be) That girl loved Drama when she was young and in Kindergarten I signed her up. It took a couple of years and two roles where she didn't speak, but she began to request a speaking role and now as a High School student (Homeschooled) has recently begun public speaking and debating. I will pray for you about the situation with your youngest. Just keep being firm with her so that she will figure out cuteness alone won't cut it 🙂 You are doing her a big favor in life by nipping that in the bud right now because you are teaching her that beauty is fleeting but a godly character lasts!

  3. Kristin says:

    honestly I think they should have different activities. I know it was hard to say "no" when the man was pressing you to enroll Morgaine, but perhaps you can resign her, and find her something else? Just explain to her that you thought she'd enjoy her own special activity instead (dance? art? music?) so that they each have their own moment to shine. I think Liam just needs to find his "thing" and have that encouraged, and then he'll have the confidence to shine on his own, and not worry about what his sister is doing.*hugs* sibling issues are hard!!

  4. dave says:

    I think Kristin has it. It's going to hurt M. to have that class taken away, but it sounds as if L. needs his own thing.

  5. Ailidh says:

    Hi there,Just brainstorming here:I think that it is really important to get Liam some of his own activities, and that you know that in your gut, obviously. So, whether it's drama or something else (but I kind of feel like it should be drama, and Morgaine will just have to learn to wait till next year), if you bring Morgaine along and they want her, you can just say, oh, this is special for Liam this year. I'm sure you'll have fun with him, and Morgaine can try when she's older. Another activity that Liam might like – Chess club? Science club? Maybe you could even start one if there isn't one around…As for the attention on the street, that's really hard. One thing you could probably do to diminish the focus on Morgaine's beauty is to dress her in pants and shirts – ie, gender neutral. I think part of the reason that girls get more comments than boys generally, and especially quiet reserved boys, is that the things we compliment girls on are generally visual (pretty, sweet, etc) whereas boys it's more activity things (smart, strong, capable) which if they aren't doing those things then people don't know what to say. I don't generally like people on the street chatting to me about my kid, much less touching him, so I tend to be a bit cold and shut them down. And I know as a child that when people would want to touch me or take my photo or whatever (and it happened a lot) my mom always gave us the choice of participating or not… but as the mom you could potentially limit those interactions, too. Maybe even explain to people yes, she is very cute (or whatever), but of course it's how we behave that really matters, isn't it? They'll be forced to agree, and Morgaine (and Liam) might learn something better than that looks get you everywhere. It's heartbreaking, though, that people don't listen when he's trying to engage. :(More about Morgaine – maybe you could corral her talking over her brother, so that if he is trying to talk to another grownup he at least gets to finish his thought? Or if she's interrupting you or another grownup for praise and attention, just remind her of her manners in this regard (note, in general I don't really like this, but you might have a special case where it makes sense for the bigger picture). And then at home really focus on praising the behaviours you like, and just ignore the whole appearance thing – no telling her she's cute or complimenting her clothes (or at least make it rare) and really focusing on her character, abilities and behaviour for praise. Having said all this, I was super quiet as a kid and my older brother was the life of every party, everyone loved him etc etc etc. It wasn't till he moved away that I really started talking (I mean, I could speak, but I never really did if he was around). I never noticed till he left, though… Good luck! This parenting thing sure can be hard but it'll come out okay in the,Ailidh

  6. Sheri says:

    I think they need different things as well. It may be hard to pull one of them out now. I wouldn't if I already set up something for them (I guess my thought is "A promise is a promise"), but I'd have them in separate extracurricular activities for the next time or if I could afford another class I'd set up something that is just his. He is clearly good in math, so music comes to mind? Also I'd try and find things that don't require looks for her. It's fine if there is one thing like dance or drama but if she can see that she has other talents that would likely benefit her so much. Later on she may wonder if all she has is looks/charm and no other talents. Looks are not permanent. We need to see that we are all wonderful and unique in the permanent aspects of ourselves not just our looks.Lot's of good vibes sent your way and hugs! This will all straighten itself out. You are aware of it and can deal with it now. It just shows that you are truly a wonderful mother.

  7. I do think that drama is the best option for Liam. He knows a couple homeschoolers who are in the class/school. I think it will help get him out of his shell. My other thought was indeed Tae Kwan Do but Mike was not interested in Liam taking that though I insisted it was about self-control, respect and not fighting. As for Morgaine, I do believe we will leave her in the drama for this session (until December) and then take her out. Liam tells us it would be nice to have her there and that he doesn't mind.And thanks for the comments on trying to get Morgaine to focus on more than looks. It will not be easy. I do not know how she has become obsessed (besides the obvious EVERYONE talks about her looks). It would totally be a battle to get her out of dresses and into pants/shirts. She really wants to take dance but I am not sure about that. As far as stopping the comments before they happen or pointing out that it's about more than just looks, I totally agree, BUT it's a wee little town where I am "from away" and I don't want to come off as unfriendly/cold either. The sad thing is that I am not sure what Morgaine is good at besides being "cute". She isn't intellectual (at all, YET) and her passion is dancing but the more you get into (if she really gets into it) unfortunately looks "matter". She is really great at drawing/painting so perhaps some kind of art class (any Capers know any?)Thanks for the comments,

  8. Ailidh,Thank you for the suggestions….I also wanted to point out though that it isn't so much that Morgaine is talking over Liam that causes "problems" on the street as she is generally willing to wait for Liam to say whatever it is he wants to say but they fact that the ADULTS actually give up on him before he gets to say what he wants. Like they actually walk away when he is still talking to them (it's happened a couple times at the library). It's sooooo rude and unfortunately because of my shyness I don't really get the nerve up to say, "hey, Liam was still talking to you."

  9. Kimberly says:

    Hi Katrina,For art lessons – keep an eye on the Centre for Craft & Design, particularly in the summer ( I've also heard there is a fantastic art teacher in the Sydney area, I'll have to see if I can get her contact info. If you ever want to get her into dance, D&R Dance is excellent for the little ones.I have to disagree with everyone else who has commented though LOL. I think them both being in drama will be terrific. Liam can get a big boost in confidence by helping Morgaine with her lines because she can't read yet. And, EVERYONE gets a speaking role in Class Acts Drama, so you needn't worry about that. Believe me, brother and sister acting together is absolutely adorable – just wait until they're doing daily skits at home like my two :)It sounds like Morgaine is great at a couple of things – dance and drawing – and that's great – actually that sounds like my little girl. She also is exceedingly difficult to get into pants and goes through many changes of dresses per day. I'm not concerned, it's part of being a girl. (I REALLY disagree about diminishing one child to make the other look better). Wherever we go people talk about how cute she is, and her brother doesn't mind, he's used to it. I always talk to him about how everyone used to do that when he was a little guy too, and eventually he started to take it in stride.I think in time you'll find that Liam learns to spit out his thoughts more quickly so he doesn't "lose" people, and you may even find him jumping in with comments about how proud he is of his sister when people are complimenting her. You could certainly help him out and guide him towards this. *hugs*

  10. Sooz says:

    Oh this is hard. Having been a shy and quiet young thing myself I know how hard it is to find one's voice.You say you don't find it easy to pull people up, however gently, to remind them that Liam was talking. It's difficult when one is shy, to stand up for oneself, and I know that only too well – it took me decades to find my courage, mainly because I didn't have people speaking up for me or supporting me when I was small. But maybe – and this is said with love and support – maybe overcoming your own shyness in standing up for Liam will let him see and be aware that you are standing up for him, that it's not OK for people to just walk away, and that he is a valuable and beautiful person. Find the lioness in you and maybe start challenging that shyness in yourself to support your son in front of other people. He's a thoughtful, intelligent young man and his way of thinking through his answers to people is absolutely wonderful. He thinks before he speaks. That's an amazing gift / quality to have at such a young age and people really could appreciate that more in him.Be a lioness. A gentle, proud, supportive lioness. Teach him how to stand up for himself and other people by standing up for him.Love to you. 🙂

  11. Sooz, Thank you for the sweet post! I think you hit the nail on the head. What a nice comment to read (and to think that we "met" over some poor man's "slop" and live a world apart!)

  12. Sooz says:

    Haha! Yes, thousands of miles apart .. slop has its uses! That poor man …Lovely to "meet" you!Sooz XX

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