I’m a teacher, and as such, I use a lot of things I’ve learned in my classroom in my parenting and I use a lot of things I’ve learned through parenting in my classroom.
This past week, the phrase, “Don’t compare them,” keeps popping into my head.
I have been in the same district for 9 years and have taught many siblings of students that I taught before.
It can be deceptive, because you may feel like you already know the child because you taught their older brother or sister, but you don’t.
Because every child is different.
Even the many, many pairs of identical twins I have taught.
So many times, I’ve sat in parent conferences where the parent has said, “I just don’t understand. My older daughter wasn’t like this at all!”
Or, the worst, “I always say ‘Why don’t you act more like your brother?'”
And I get it.
It’s hard not to do.
After all, these kids came from the same parents as the other kids did.
Shouldn’t they behave similarly?
The flip side is that I’ve had teachers say to me, “Oh, he’s no Monkey Girl,” or “Such a shame he isn’t more like Monkey in the Middle.”
Because I think it’s awesome that my four children are so completely different.
They excel at different things and that’s okay.
Monkey Girl has always been all about school, and Baby Monkey could care less.
But Baby Monkey loves to create and build things, while Monkey Girl doesn’t even give those things a second look.
Monkey in the Middle is a star athlete, while his siblings would rather have their fingernails pulled out with pliers than do anything athletic.
We went to Walmart the other day for Monkey Girl to buy something she’s been saving for.
While there, I asked the boys if they wanted me to pick up some shirts for school, as they are responsible for getting themselves dressed and ready for school and…they just keep growing.
They said yes.
Here is what Monkey in the Middle chose:
Here is what Baby Monkey chose (and yes, he will wear these to school, as he chooses to wear stuff like this to school every day):
None of the above.
So, I continue to strive hard to quiet the voice in my head that says “Ugh…his sister never behaves like that,” or “Homework was never an issue for his brother,” and remind myself that their differences are what make them special and what make them mine.
I continue to counsel parents to do the same and celebrate the unique gifts that each of their children bring to the table.
Comparison does nothing but breed resentment and that’s something that doesn’t get anyone anywhere.