December 26, 2006

Hmmm. Maybe they do take after us.

TheMonk and Swee’Pea sit on the floor playing with the shape sorter that every toddler must master before obtaining their toddler license. The shape sorter is a plastic cylinder with a lid that fits snugly on top. The lid has four shapes cut out that include a square, a circle, a triangle and a star. Inside the cylinder are a bunch of blocks that are shaped to fit into the shapes cut out on the lid.

I dump the blocks out onto the floor and replace the lid on the now empty container. I show TheMonk and Swee’Pea how to fit the blocks into their corresponding shapes. TheMonk selects a circle and slowly and methodically tries to fit it into one of the shapes on the lid. First he tries the star, sees that it doesn’t fit and moves onto the square. After trying the square he tries the triangle. Finally, he tries the circle and the block slips easily into the container. TheMonk is clearly pleased with himself as he lets out a small shriek of joy and claps his hands together in celebration. I join in clapping as I marvel at his patience and calculated way of finding the right shape. It is a trait that does not come easy for me and I admire his calm approach.

Next, it’s Swee’Pea’s turn. I hand her a star and she immediately tries to cram it into the same circle that TheMonk’s block slipped through so easily just a moment earlier. Upon meeting resistance, Swee’Pea doesn’t give up. She increases the force on the block. She tries harder and harder until her little hand is trembling from pure effort. I glance up at her face and see that she is gritting her teeth, her eyes are narrow and focused. Her face has turned red as she has stopped breathing – her only goal is to get that darn block into that stinking hole. I offer a suggestion that she try a different hole but she’s having none of my suggestions. Daddy can just back off while she figures out how to cram that thing into the hole that she knows will fit.

Meanwhile, her silence has given way to low, guttural grunts as she now has all twenty-two pounds of pure Swee’pea force into that little block. Again, I try and get her to see that there are other shapes to try out. I even place my hand on her block to try and force her to try another hole – perhaps the one actually shaped like a star. This is a mistake as I serve only as another frustration into GETTING THAT DAMN BLOCK IN THE DAMN HOLE!!!! She lets out a now-familiar “AAACK!!!” to let me know that I better NOT MESS WITH HER RIGHT NOW!!! Not being stupid, I back off to see what will happen.

Finally, Swee’Pea has had enough. Clearly forcing the damn block into the hole is not working. She needs to try something else. Suddenly, with a swooping motion so quick that I still cannot fully comprehend the speed, her free hand snatches the lid off the container and raises the lid about a foot into the air while her hand that is still clutching the block whips away from the lid. Now, with a clear path into the container – no pesky lid with crazy shapes to impede her – she throws the block into the container with a quick snap of her wrist while letting out a small shriek of pure frustration. The object of her frustration – a blue, plastic little star – rattles loudly inside the container and threatens to bounce out. This won’t happen, however, because she quickly slams the lid down on top of the container with a force so large a small earthquake was felt along the Southern California coastline.

Suddenly, all is quiet. I look at Swee’Pea. She is breathing heavily as our eyes meet for the first time. She glances at the shape sorter with her block clearly inside. She looks back at me and smiles. “I did it,” her smile seems to say.

Satisfied, she crawls away to find another toy. I look down at TheMonk who, once again, is methodically trying to find where the triangle fits. I watch as it slips into the triangle-shaped hole and falls into the bucket. Again he claps with glee and, again, I join in as well.

Watching TheMonk do this reminds me of Andrea and the way she approaches most everything – she has a plan and she follows it. I look over at Swee’Pea, now playing with something else, and as I recall her actions just a minute earlier, I think to myself. “Hmmmm. I wonder where she gets that from.”


  1. I am laughing very hard right now!

    Because my kids are further apart in age, Ane’s skills with something like a shape sorter (we have the Tupperware ball version) are now quite advanced, but I marvel at how methodical Tad is in getting the blocks in. Ane was like Swee’Pea and got very frustrated at that age, but she would just demand that Mommy put it in for her. It got to the point where I hid that toy until she was older. Tad is much more patient and likes to know How Things Work. I saw him eyeing my sewing machine when I was using it, and he was glued to everything that it did. Totally unlike his sister, but so like his daddy.

    Comment by Deanna — December 27, 2006 @ 2:28 am

  2. My oldest was (and is) the king of taking things apart rather than working out the puzzle. He’d just pull everything apart to see how it worked, then put it back together and quit playing with it.
    I’d be sitting there going “come on baby, let’s find the triangle” and he’d take the thing apart.

    Comment by Gidge — December 27, 2006 @ 9:02 am

  3. Kids are just amazing in how different they are. My two children are like that as well. While they are not twins, since they are only 13 months apart, it is easy to remember what the first one did as the second one tries it for the first time. They were a lot like your two. My first is very methodical, my second is a hellion!

    Comment by Mary — December 27, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  4. Isn’t it interesting to see how differently they are wired? We’re all unique right from the start.

    My middle son is the easily frustrated one, and it amazes me to see his younger brother often being so patient and calm.

    Comment by momto3cubs — December 28, 2006 @ 9:18 am

  5. Too Funny! Baby Fred got a shape sorter for Christmas… sounds like we have a lot of fun in our future. A lot of fun for a $5.00 toy!!
    Happy New Year

    Comment by Bill — December 29, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

  6. Well, no one told her it was the shape of things that is the point, she thinks the object is getting the damn star in the bucket and she did! Two minds, two different world views.

    Comment by Grandmother — December 31, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  7. It’s amazing how differen they are. How great that you get to experience both.

    Comment by samantha jo campen — January 1, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

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