The Temperaments God Gave My Kids

25 January 2015

The other day, I was hanging out with this old friend and her sixteen month old. And this sixteen month old is such a boy. He got into everything. Climbing over boxes to get to chords. He dumped the bowl of goldfish crackers out on the coffee table and then proceeded to fling the goldfish to every corner of the room.

In short: awesome. He was awesome.

And Lucy June stood in the middle of the room, holding onto one plastic toy, and watched him very critically. Lucy June who reaches for something contraband and typically at my first "UhOh" will straighten up, smile, and go somewhere else. Lucy June who watches her hands as she signs for "more" and carefully taps her little fingers together. Lucy June who has recently started nodding when I ask "night night?"

If I had Lucy June first, I would have thought I was a pretty kick ass parent. I would've been positively insufferable.

But I didn't have Lucy June first. I had Jake.

When Jake was a baby and a toddler, I didn't have a real sense of his uniqueness. People would ask about his personality, and I would say: "Baby personality??" I had no concept of what was Him Being a Baby vs. Him Being Him. Now that I've known him a few years and had a second baby, I've clued in.

And my kids are so different. From the very beginning they've been so different. I know he's a boy and she's a girl and their differences really fall on gendered sides of the fence, but still I find it so interesting.

Several of my friends have recommended Art Bennett's The Temperament God Gave Your Kids - these are of course Catholic friends, Protestants don't talk about temperaments - which explores the idea of responding to your children according to their personalities. This seems pretty intuitive, but also essential. My parents certainly seemed to adjust according to my and my siblings' tendencies growing up. For example, my little brothers had curfews, I never did. I actually broke a window trying to sneak back IN the house after my parents forgot I wasn't home and locked me out.

So this is the face off in Casa Rhodes with regard to blossoming, burgeoning behaviors.


Jake vs. Lucy June

Jake fought sleep as a baby. Boy he fought it. But once he was asleep you couldn't wake him up if you tried.

Lucy June learned to sleep much more easily. She was a baby you could swaddle and look away and she would be asleep. But man was she light: she would wake up if I was typing in the next room.

>><<

When Jake was little he just went: he would take off and never look back. I once tested how far he would walk away from me. He walked for a quarter mile along the beach before I caught up with him. He hadn't looked for me once.

Lucy June has this invisible tether. She always knows where I am. When we're in public, I can set her down and let her wander because she will always stay where she can see me.

>><<

Jake fell off the bed probably eight times. (I thought this was my fault until:)

Lucy June fell off once.

>><<

Jake dumps bins out.

Lucy June fills the bins back up.

>><<

Jake would always rather be playing.

Lucy June would always rather be eating.

>><<

If Jake's hungry, he doesn't really notice what he's eating - with the exception of sweet peppers - he'll chomp right through it, tell me it's "delushous," and ask to be excused.

Lucy June will survey her food and, with eyebrows raised and chin tilted up, will carefully pick out that one exact bit.

>><<

Jake is the opposite of coy. When I'm out of the room, and I hear Lucy June cry, I can call and ask what happened. Jake won't skip a beat: "I hit her."

Lucy June has already grasped the concept of hiding things from me. She tried to sneak away with more ornaments off the Christmas tree than I could count.

>><<

Jake and I will play the nice little game of mistake/consequence/meltdown/timeout, and as soon as timeout is over he will skip away unfazed to the next moment's play. Jake's never held a grudge. And he's literally never grumpy.

Lucy June will trip on her socks and look around for who to blame. Her poutface is positively masterful.

>><<

Lucy June is a kisser and a cuddler.

When Jake was around her age, he snuggled with me approximately once. And that's how I figured out he had Roseola.


And that's all she wrote. Top of the Sunday to you, my friends!




15 comments :

  1. I loved this part:

    "If I had Lucy June first, I would have thought I was a pretty kick ass parent. I would've been positively insufferable.

    But I didn't have Lucy June first. I had Jake."

    Yes! So true.

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  2. Oh, Kate. I totally have a Jake.

    I have often wondered if I was not a nurturing or natural mother because he could care less about how far he is from me, only cuddles when he's sick and is obsessed with dad. For a long time I thought it was because I wasn't able to breastfeed him. Now I realize he's just a super independent kid. He's confident and joyful, and maybe someday he'll call me mama ;)

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  3. Hi, I recently started following your blog and laughed out loud at your "Protestants don't talk about temperaments." I'm Protestant (and my husband is Jewish, so there's some Jew blend in there), and here in NY/PA, all of my Protestant friends are REALLY into Temperaments/Personality Typing, especially as it relates to children. Meanwhile, my Catholic friends couldn't care less. So apparently Personality Typing is quite regional in its circles!

    Anyway, I now have this book on my reading list; thank you! Curious, have you read 'Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type' or 'MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths'? The first I read and LOVED; it takes Myers-Briggs and starts applying it as early as age 2-4. The second was recommended to me (by a Protestant Mama) and I am equally excited for it.

    I apologize for my novel-long comment.

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    Replies
    1. How funny!! People never talked about temperaments growing up, but then I became Catholic and terms like "Melancholic" were thrown around, and I was like: what is this of which you speak??" My little brother is really into enneagram. Have you heard of it? Thanks for the book recs!!

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    2. Actually, yes! I was introduced to enneagram about 2-3 years ago and took an extensive test to figure out which one I am. Unfortunately, I've since forgotten all of it (including my test results). It doesn't seem to have the widespread popularity of Myers-Briggs, but when I googled books, there is one called 'The Enneagram of Parenting: The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them Successfully' which I may add to my reading list now, too. Thanks for bringing that up!

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  4. Okay - this was hilarious! And so so insightful! Loved it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Any insight is hard-earned. I was just about the densest new parent in the history of parents!

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  5. Isn't it fun seeing all their differences? And even though we have six, they all have their little personality quirks, I love it!

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  6. So true. Our first was a very easy baby. Lo and behold, second came along with terrible sleep habits and a much more high-strung personality and we realized we had done nothing to make our first the way he was.

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    1. I think big doses of humility are pretty important in parenting!

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  7. So fascinating! Sam and Charlotte are complete opposites and it never ceases to amaze me- and they are the same gender!

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  8. Another great book series on this is Personality Plus - very fun to read and very anecdotal - there is the first book and then Personality Plus for Parents and one for spouses also. The book contains the test to take to determine your primary and secondary temperaments. I love that stuff! My 5 are all so different and it's fun to actually understand where they are coming from. I should re-read. And we call Lucy June an "umbilical baby" or a "Velcro baby" around here. And my youngest is still that way at 10. He insists he's never moving out of our house, not even to go to college. We'll see....! :)

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  9. I'm obsessed with the temperaments! One of each in our family so far (I'm die hard choleric, Ted is my phlegmatic other half, Hannah is melancholic, and Paul is a budding sanguine). I'm so excited to see what this next baby will be like. My fingers are crossed I get a sweet little Lucy June copy cat.

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