By Jill Sherron

I have two children, girls who are just over two years apart, and I am constantly amazed at how different two closely related people being raised together can be! They are both sweet and loving and have a lot of similar interests (American Girl dolls, camping, bike riding, swimming, reading), but they have many differences, too.

For instance, my oldest is a rule-follower, perfectionist, a people-pleaser (which can be good or bad, depending on the situation), enjoys school, prefers not to get dirty, is independent, is 8-going-on-14, is almost always in a good mood (or at least neutral, not grumpy), does not need a lot of sleep and pops out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (stopped napping at 2 ½  – yes, when I had a newborn, and rarely falls asleep before 9 even though she goes to bed at 8), and generally takes after me in terms of her food preferences (chocolate) and personality-type (more Type A).

My youngest, in contrast, is not a rule-follower, sails through tasks just to be done, has a BIG personality (many mood swings every day), says in the mornings, “Oh my gosh, school is the worst part of my life!” (um, you’re in kindergarten, school is your life for a while!), will wallow in dirt/sand/mud and dig for worms and doesn’t care if the juice from an orange is dripping on her from head to toe, is a homebody, is 6-going-on-1, can be the grumpiest thing you ever saw (teenage years scare me!), is a great sleeper and is NOT a morning person – she needs time to lounge (she would probably still take naps if she could and is out like a light at 7:30), and mostly takes after her father in her food preferences (maraschino cherries and Reddi Whip) and personality (more Type B, but with moodiness).

Of course I love both my children dearly, it is just interesting to see how polar opposite some of their personality traits are. And I wonder: If they were raised separately in a parallel universe so that all things were exactly the same, would they be different than they are now? I know a lot of how they act and what they do is based on having a sister. For instance, my younger daughter is doing things (diving, roller skating, etc) at a younger age than her sister did in an effort to keep up with her. My older daughter is so mothering and nurturing, but would she be that way if she didn’t have a younger sister? Obviously we can never know these answers, but it’s fun to wonder.

The other thing I wonder is how my two girls can be so much like my brother’s two girls (who are teenagers) that it’s scary. Yes, they share a gene pool, but they are almost a decade apart in age and are not being raised together. The benefit is I can talk with my sister-in-law about what we are going through and get good advice because chances are she’s been there, done that. But the bad thing is I see that some things – like the moodiness – don’t necessarily get outgrown!

Have you experienced this in your family? I imagine those of you with more than 2 kids have some good stories to share! Do tell.

(Photo Caption: They shared a room one summer, so one room had both of their beds, nightstands, and dressers, while the other room had toys, books, etc. The nightstand on the left belongs to my oldest.)