I don't care how many children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren you have. You will never, ever know what to expect.
My girls are 14 months apart. The benefits are that they always have a playmate (or sparring partner, depends on where the big hand is on the clock), clothes are almost interchangeable and you get through the big things -- potty training, bottle breaking, the terrible twos -- almost simultaneously.
The downside is they always have a sparring partner, they hate wearing the same clothes and you make it through the terrible twos with a scrap of sanity remaining and then you dive right back in.
And, despite the fact that you've just done it, every child, the joyous individual that they are, adds their own unique spin.
I didn't even realize that 6-year-old Katie had transitioned out of the must-cry-about-everything stage until 5-year-old Nikki transitioned into it.
Now, emotional Katie has a pretty even keel, and down-to-earth Nikki mans her rudder like a storm-tossed sailor.
Yet again I'm taken aback at the amount of tears an inability to button pants can trigger.
I can't say that my previous experience in dealing with large emotional outbursts about inconsequential things is really honed either. I still have to rein in that instant bout of frustration that rises every time tears gush about an "a" that was printed backwards.
Despite the fact that she's going through the exact same stage, Nikki manages to remain an individual as she does it.
Where Katie craved empathy, Nikki responds to logic.
I do well with logic. I have a hard time working up empathy for tears generated because "mmmyyyy backpack (hic) fellllll (sob) ovvver!"
What continues to amaze me is how different the two are. Homework is torture for Katie where the lack of homework upsets Nikki.
I'm constantly making up projects for Nikki that I can call "homework" and constantly working with Katie to complete hers.
As I took a page of Katie's and modified the directions to better-suit Nikki, she said with relish "this is going to be hard."
Big smile -- she was looking forward to the challenge.
Contrast that with Katie, who drops the pencil, lays her head on the table and says, "I just can't do it, mom!"
She is growing more patient and will now give me the chance to walk her through it. And, when she takes the steps and arrives at the right answer, she says, "it was in my head!"