For a long time, (meaning 4 years), we had one kid (Ace) who was an attention lover and one kid (Jay) who preferred to linger in the background. Ace could make friends with a lamp post. I’m pretty sure he has. Ace could talk anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, to death. He’s bubbly and is all show-man, all the time. Entertaining, singing songs, cheesing for the camera, dressing up. He’s funny and charming and genuinely wants to make us and other people happy. That’s his thing. Making people laugh. It’s a wonderful trait.
Jay, on the other hand … well … my Jay tried to be inconspicuous. He would never seek out attention. He would play quietly by himself. He would come if we called him, but he would never take it upon himself to interrupt a conversation or join in any activity without an invitation. He never injected himself loudly and obviously into any group. He would be the one off in the corner minding his own business. The one that was not in the mix. He was no social butterfly.
It worked well for both my boys. Ace got to be the star of the show and Jay got to go un-noticed. Ace got to do all the “talking” for Jay and Jay got to sit back and have Ace do all his work.
With Jay’s “behind the scenes” personality come some benefits for us too. Jay never really got into any trouble. He never accidentally broke anything. He never tripped over his own feet and injured himself. He rarely had to be told to “wait a minute” or “clean up that mess“. He didn’t complain when it was bed time and he didn’t write on walls or wander off. Ever! He didn’t lose his toys or rip his pants. He was a rule follower.
It seems though that now-a-days Jay is coming out of his shell. He’s taking more initiative. When he wants something he finds a way to tell you. When he needs attention he comes and gets it. He’s become a little parrot. He still struggles with initiating requests but with prompting he will repeat almost anything we say. He’s working hard to talk to us. I see him thinking – a lot. He’s learning. He’s trying. He wants to be with us. He gets ideas in his head about what he wants to do and comes to us for help. He’s putting demands on us and gets mad when we don’t comply. And yes, he is now being mischievous.
* He sees me trying to fold and put away a pile of clothes and *light bulb* he jumps onto the bed, looks at me through the corners of his eyes, smirks just a little, and then pushes the entire pile onto the floor and says – with much dramatic flair – “OH DEAR!”. Just when I’m about to grab him he laughs and jumps out of my reach.
Next thing I know he’s on the floor, in my pile of clothes, throwing them up in the air and laughing as they land on his head.
* He’s coming to give me a good night kiss and on the way stops. The cat is laying on the floor. Jay stands for a while – the wheels are turning in his head. He knows he shouldn’t. He looks back and forth between me and the cat. He won’t move until he’s sure that I see him and I know what he’s about to do. I give him that “you better not” look and he smirks and stomps on the cats tail and jumps into my lap and kisses me through giggles.
These are the kinds of things that another 4 year old may or should get in trouble for but not my Jay.
It’s like breathing new air to me to see his personality become so vibrant.
The inserting himself into MY activity. The mischief of a typical 4 year old. The looking and waiting for my reaction. The joy of anticipation. The “knowing” that he’s doing something wrong. The wanting me to respond to his antics. The way he uses the tools he has (since he can’t talk) to say “look at me mummy“. The pretending that it was an accident. The way he loves that I hug him and tickle him and pretend spank him. The pure JOY that we’re playing because he wants to.
The cat will be ok and the clothes don’t matter.