One of the toughest challenges about raising two boys who are a mere 10 months apart in age has been protecting their self esteem. I’m sure other parents have similar struggles with their children who have a larger gap between them. And I know I’m not alone in the Irish twin department. But that doesn’t make my predicament any less problematic.
#1son (age 8) = strong verbal skills, excellent baseball player, great tennis player, kind, thoughtful, hard working, eager to do chores ALWAYS (how did I get so lucky?), conscientiousness, responsible.
#2son (almost 8) = a memory like an elephant about EVERYTHING, a wiz at mental math (he can do computations in his head quicker than me and that’s sayin’ something because I’m a little bit of a math nerd), excellent speller, strong swimmer, a little comedian, excellent cuddler.
#2son outshines #1son in academics. There are days when I dare say that #2son is off the charts bright. (Keep in mind, this IS his mother writing this.) His teacher has hinted that pushing him up a grade might be in his future. Although, I’d never do that, for many reasons, but one very big reason is that he would then be in his older brother’s grade.
Hence, my problem.
In a household when academic achievement is far more valued than athletic pursuits, how do I balance the praise? I’m glad #1son loves his sports. I’m glad he’s good at them. But I don’t want to highlight his athletic achievements. Yet, #2son brings home amazing grades, and #1son knows it. So, we hesitate showcasing A’s and 100’s on the refrigerator.
It’s like walking a tightrope in this house some days.
I have a fish that can swim but can’t climb trees. Then, I have a squirrel who leaps from tree to tree but can’t swim.
We do our best to focus the praise on kindness, compassion and doing for others. But sometimes I feel their individual strengths get lost somehow.
Parenting is such blind trial and error. We’re doing our best with each child’s achievement and setback. With each child’s accomplishment and failure. I just hope, fingers crossed, that we’re responding in the best possible way that creates happy, confident, amazing young men.
Make that toes crossed, too.