There’s something I started doing a while back which is annoying the shit out of me, and I’ve decided I must stop it. I’m comparing my children.
K is 18 months in a few weeks time. She’s a very smart girl, is discovering language and picking up words quickly. She walked at 10 months, stood at 4 and a bit. When you sit her on your lap to read her a story she doesn’t reach for the pages and scream in frustration when you turn the page instead of her. She eats 90% of what’s put in front of her and she approaches things in a very calm and measured way. She’s smiley and walks around the supermarket holding your hand. She climbs easily and with thought, checking where she’s putting her legs and feet on the way down. She’s beautiful and keen.
My son, at her age, was…
See I’m about to compare them again, and I said I wouldn’t do this! I’m a fucktard! Let’s just say my son, who is now 3 years old, has always had a very different spirit. He has always been a whirling dervish of energy. He has always been very strong-minded. He has always been himself. As K is herself.
See. That’s better isn’t it. I’m not comparing the two. Phew!
But it’s a natural thing, isn’t it? To compare your children? It’s natural to think back to when your first child did something and compare this with when your second did the same thing, or didn’t grasp it. In fact, perhaps it natural for you to compare your own children with others? Obviously mine are gorgeous, beautiful and cleverer than hers or his. Mine is at the talking stage while theirs is still…
No. Perhaps it’s not. Perhaps it’s mean and smug and perhaps I’m denigrating the other child’s many other talents by making any comparisons at all. Kids develop in different ways, at different times and at different rates.
Everyone comments on how tall my children are, compared with others of a similar age or even older. You see? They’re making comparisons now. So it’s okay?
However, when my cousin and I were growing up we were constantly compared, right through to our teenage years, by our family. Behind closed mouths I’m sure we are STILL being compared and it bugged the shit out of both of us when we were younger. Sorry, but it did.
Dunno. All I know is I can’t bring myself to say phrases like ‘that’s just like T did at that age’ or ‘K seems to be getting on better at that than T did at that age’ any more. I feel like I’m criticising one of them by comparing. I know I’m not doing this, in my head, but I just feel critical when I do say it.
So I’ve decided to stop doing it. Out loud. And hopefully in my head too. I think.
What are your thoughts? Is it okay and natural to do this and so I shouldn’t overthink it, or am I, by comparing my two children, setting up one of them to fail?
First published March 14th, 2012.