I have often refered to my boys as my box of chocolates. (Believe me, the comparisons to Forrest Gump don’t stop there, but that is for another day.)From the beginning, I was never sure what I was going to get. I did know before they were born that they would be boys. What kind of boys they would be, what they would look like, how they would impact my life – those were all mysteries that I was yet to discover . Even with all that I know about them now, I still am discovering who they are and who they will be.
When Nic was little, he was fastidious. He was compelled to put things away before he took out anything else. If I left something out, he would bring it to me to make sure I put it in its proper place.
Nothing in the world fascinated Nic more than words and numbers. He was so happy with his books, foam letters and numbers that few other toys were necessary. Wow, I thought. I hit the jackpot - a studious, quiet child that cleans up after himself. What more could more could I ask for?
Fast forward nine years. Nic is a slob. Wherever Nic has eaten, enough food is left behind to make another meal. We continually argue over putting away things that he has used, because “That’s soooooooooooooooooo much worrrrrrrk!”
Though, Nic is a proficient reader, reading several levels above his grade, he couldn’t be less interested. Let him browse a cookbook or flip through Garfield cartoons, and he’ll go along. Ask him to read a chapter book and it’s, “But that’s soooooooooooo boriiiiiiingggggg!”
When Aaron was a baby, he had colic. For three months straight, he would fuss all day. In the evenings, he would start screaming at 7:00 and go straight through to 11:00. The poor little thing didn’t smile until he was six months-old and a doctor finally realized he had acid reflux.
Unlike his big brother Nic, Aaron had no use for books. He would throw them across the room, stack them like blocks, or use them to scoot around on the floor. His favorite thing to do was chew on them. “Aaron, books are for reading, not for eating, ” I would coo as he smiled up at me, sinking his gums into another page.
He differed from his brother, too, in that he never put anything away. Aaron would toss toys all over the place while looking for what he wanted. When he found it, he would walk over the trail of toys, oblivious to the crunch beneath his feet. Nic would fret, following after him, “Put way, Aaron!”
Today, Aaron smiles more than anyone I know. So much of the world strikes him as funny. He also reads like he is afraid that books with disappear. We are frequent visitors to the library and the bookstore.
Where Nic has become a slob, Aaron has become tidy…to the point of being annoying. I spend a lot of time looking for items that I planned to use, only to discover the Aaron has put them “away” for me.
“Aaron, please don’t keep putting Mom’s things away,” I say, trying not to sound annoyed.
“But, you left it where it didn’t belong.”
“I hadn’t even used it yet.”
“Then, why did you take it out already. You know, it’s a good thing you have me around or this place would really be a mess,” Aaron beams with pride.
Yes, my boys have surprised me. They are not the boys I was so sure they would be. They are better because they are themselves. Still, my husband and I like to muse over what they will be like someday. Will they be Felix and Oscar of the Odd Couple – one fastidious and one a slob? Maybe, they will be Niles and Frasier Crane of Fraiser – intelligent, fussy and interested in all kinds of things no one else cares about? Or, perhaps, like Robert and Ray Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond - in constant competition and never able to get enough of their mom’s attention?
Over summer vacation, I have come to think of them as the battling Cain and Able. When the kids are unhappy with us for laying down the law, my husband suspects they might be more like Lyle and Erik (Menendez, that is). I tell him not worry. We’ll never have that much money.