Having spent the last couple of years as an entrepreneur, I’ve
learned the value of maintaining an even keel. My daily routine
includes a constant array of good news and bad news and you can’t take
any of it too personally. On the one hand, I try to maintain this
stoicism, borrowing from the old ad line "never let ’em see you sweat".
You just can’t ride the roller coaster and maintain your sanity. But
still, at the same time, emotion can be a good thing. It can motivate
you and inspire in you, as long as you manage it properly. As a father,
I’m reminded of this as I get a dose of each and every day from each of my
Iris is clearly the family Drama Queen. She can make the mildest
event seem like Armageddon. She doesn’t do it every time, but she does
end up being like a landmine on occasion. It’s startling how sensitive
she can be and it is only predictable in its unpredictable nature.
Something like who gets to use the bathroom first will throw her into a
hissy fit. And it isn’t just getting upset–she’ll declare that due to
this egregious error in judgment on our part, she’s "going to go away
and never come back". Really, over the order of who uses the toilet?
Wow. If she were a little older, I might be a little worried about a
But Robyn? Cool as the other side of the pillow. Even when she
starts crying, I’ll ask her to come over and say "Robyn, please stop
crying." And wouldn’t you know it–she stops. I then ask her what’s
wrong, she tells me, we come up with a solution, and she then completely
forgets why she is mad. In fact, if I just wait, she’ll usually just
forget why she’s mad. And when we call her on stuff, she listens,
accepts it, and moves on. No muss. No fuss. I keep thinking of her as
the Teflon Kid–nothing sticks to her.
Last week, we had an "incident" that perfectly summed this all up. Robyn dared move one of
Iris’ paper projects. Didn’t rip it or ruin it. Just moved it…:
Iris: No, no, NO, NOOO!
Iris: Robyn moved one of my papers from one chair to the other.
Iris: Now it’s ruined!
Me: Why is it ruined?
Iris: It just is. Robyn shouldn’t do that. I can’t believe she did that. I worked so hard on it.
Me: Iris, it’s not ruined.
Iris: She shouldn’t have done that!!!
Me: You’re right. You don’t have to get so upset, but you are right. (I turn to Robyn). Robyn?
Me: Can you please not touch Iris’ papers.
Me: And can you please ask next time?
Me: OK, you can go back to playing.
Robyn: Thank you.
Now I didn’t exactly scold her, but when I admonish Iris, the
bottom lip usually comes out. She stews about it for a while after and,
while it’s probably an overstatement to suggest she holds a grudge, she
doesn’t necessarily forget easily. That’s just not Robyn. Stuff is
usually forgotten quickly and she moves on. Every lesson I learned with
Iris on crisis management is a waste of time with Robyn. It’s why
people with one kid know how to parent their own kid, but don’t
necessarily know kids in general, whereas those with 2 (and moreso with
3) have a greater sample size and start seeing where variability occurs
(oh, and those with 4+ kids know the most, but I believe are clinically insane 🙂 ).
The funny thing about this blog post is that it probably sounds
like I am complaining about Iris and wish she could be more like Robyn.
That’s not at all true. Sometimes, wearing that emotion on your sleeve
is a wonderful thing. I’ve never met a more expressive loving human
being than my eldest daughter. When Iris was the age Robyn is now, I
was on the road for a week on the east coast while she and Cherise were
at Grandma’s. When I got home, I went to SeaTac airport to pick them up
the next day. As I waited by security for them to come out of the
gate, Iris spotted me from a 100 feet away. Right when she spotted me,
two-year old Iris sprinted toward me with a biggest smile on her face,
reaching me and giving me this full bear hug. I’m 38 years old and I
can honestly claim that it was the greatest moment of my life. Iris
didn’t hold back, she didn’t wait anything out. She just went for it
and it created a memory like no other. She’s shy about a lot of things,
but not about her feelings for (and against) us. If she manages to
direct that emotion properly, I can only imagine how she’ll apply it the
world. Again, Robyn is a little different. Last week, I returned from yet another
week-long east coast trip where the kids and Cherise headed to Grandma’s
house. When I saw Robyn upon her return, she was sitting in the living room. This was our first meeting after not seeing each other for seven days:
Me: "Robyn, you’re home!"
Robyn: (staring in silence)
Me: "I’m so glad to see you."
Robyn: (staring in silence)
Me: "I missed you so much."
Robyn: (picking up a book) "Can you read this to me?"
Not exactly a tear-jerking moment. She was happy to see me, but
it wasn’t her style to react right away. As for Iris, well she refused
to be pulled out of the car by Mommy. She was waiting for me, at which
point she began talking and hugging and talking (and talking). She was
bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement and it was a variation of the
SeaTac moment many years later. Where Robyn was a girl of few words,
you just can’t stifle Iris. Once again, the beauty of having two kids
is revealed in their pronounced differences and I wouldn’t have either
of them any other way.