About six years ago, we decided to pursue adoption as the way we’d grow our family. Once we made that decision, we had to accept that our kids wouldn’t look anything like us. As they grew from infancy to childhood, we would never turn to each other and exclaim how they had Mike’s eyes or my chin. Friends would never say, “He looks just like you!” We came to be at peace with that and were reassured by other adoptive parents that our kids would adopt our mannerisms, which can be just as satisfying to see as similar features. And we’ve seen some of that already. Mike has a horrible habit of starting a sentence and then not completing it because his mind has already moved on. Teddy does the same thing. I use “so” as a filler to start sentences. Teddy does, as well. It is rather adorable to hear him say, “So….I’ll put my own shoes on.”
But what we didn’t expect, and what has provided some of our happiest moments as adoptive parents, is discovering how much our kids’ interests and personalities mirror our own.
Teddy is blessed with a natural athleticism and love of baseball. We introduced him to the sport at an early age. And like Mike, he LOVES IT. He’s been throwing and catching since before he could walk. He swings an aluminum bat like he’s in the Little League World Series. He can’t stand still for 15 minutes, but put him in section 137, Row T, Seat 1 at Nats Park and he’ll sit for 3 hours with only the occasional request for a Coke and a bathroom break. It brings Mike so much joy to have a rapt audience in Teddy as he provides commentary throughout a game.
He also loves words–almost as much as I do. He insists on spelling out as many words as he can think of at his writing desk. From about age 3, every trip down the street involved him asking what storefront windows and street signs said. He takes great joy in pronouncing words he’s never read before and asking for definitions of words he hears, but doesn’t understand. And, while I’m not really sure how to define “caustic” in five-year-old terms, it brings a smile to my face that he wants to know.
Another way he mirrors me is how literal he is. I’ll admonish him for something, and we’ll get into a 10 minute argument because he doesn’t accept my description of what he did. This is a personality trait that would be super endearing… if I didn’t share it (as was pointed out to me a few months ago: I couldn’t appreciate a story Mike was telling because I got stuck on a detail he had wrong). Instead, we butt heads over this…a lot. But if I choose to think about it as something Teddy “got from me”, it makes me smile. And I find it easier to see the positive side–Teddy will make a fantastic lawyer some day.
Lydia has a natural gift for gab — just like her daddy. She’s been jabbering practically since we brought her home and at 19 months, she’s stringing words into intelligible sentences already. (Tonight at dinner, she randomly stood up and declared, pretty clearly, “I’m happy and I know it, clap my hands!”) She’s got opinions. Lots of ‘em. And she’s not afraid to share them. Mike also has opinions and isn’t afraid to share them. So he encourages her to tell him about the injustice of wearing a bib while eating dinner, or how unfair it is that he insists on holding her hand while crossing the street. Right now they’re working on the confidence to express one’s opinion. They’ll work on the validity of the argument later.
Like me, she seems to be a morning person. I often take her with me on pre-dawn runs because the boys are still asleep and, well, see the previous paragraph. Also like me, she wants to go to bed when she’s tired…unlike her night owl father and brother. While they yawn and insist they’re not tired, she’ll reach for her crib and eagerly snuggle under her blanket, stick her thumb in her mouth and roll to her side, falling asleep in minutes. We girls do not understand evening second winds.
Mike and I will never hear anyone exclaim how our kids are the spitting image of us, but we see reflections of ourselves in them all the time. And that makes us so happy.