Our two daughters, ages 8 and 10, get along well despite being pretty different personality wise. Perhaps that is why they rarely fight and play well together.
Their differing personalites show in their choice of extra-curricular activities. Our daughters are allowed only one activity to keep them (and us) from being over scheduled and stressed. Much to my delight they each chose one that I love and have some knowledge.
Charlotte, the older one, has a strong outgoing personality. Her goal is to be on the stage. She is on a Newport News’ City Arts dance team that practices twice a week. This year, she is doing a solo at a spring competition which is requires even more practice both in and out of the studio. The solo requires a costume that we are creating with the help of her very talented costume-making grandmother. We have had fun discussing and planning all of it.
Julia is a bit quieter than her sister, but still can easily meet people (a requirement when your mom is a journalist and knows a lot of people in the community). She is happy playing alone and has never heard of or met an animal she does not want to learn about. Just take one look at her finger nails and you will see a life close to nature. When she brought home a flyer on Brownies and scouting last school year, she pulled it out and forcefully said “Mom, I want to do this!” The flyer showed girls camping and with a horse. I believe that was the first time she felt so strongly about an activity outside our home.
Now, my husband and I are truly trying to strike a balance in having Charlotte’s upcoming performance and extra classes not overshadow Julia. It is a work in progress. Charlotte enjoys practicing her dancing whenever she can. It is not uncommon for her to dance up to the dishwasher when asked to help unload it. She talks about her solo and dance team all the time, to the point I have asked her to stop for a few minutes. On the afternoon of her first solo practice, she got in the car before I told her to. A moment of peace in the house was thoroughly enjoyed.
Julia’s scouting takes less time, but probably will increase now that cookie season is upon us (if you want any, contact me via this website). However, that is just a six-week window versus Charlotte’s 10 weeks of practicing for a dance competition in March. I have noticed an increase in Julia talking about her Brownies and upcoming activities. For instance, every time Charlotte has mentioned looking forward to her solo practice, Julia comes back with “I can’t wait for cookie rally!” Or a similar Brownie related upcoming activity.
I will say my daughters are good about supporting each other. Julia helped Charlotte select a song for her solo and is proud her sister picked the one she strongly suggested. When I got inspired to pull out a piece of paper to start designing Charlotte’s costume, Julia chimed in with a few ideas.
Charlotte helped Julia with devising a list of potential cookie costumers and last year helped with delivery. Charlotte recently helped with an activity station at a Brownie meeting (I try to help the leaders at meetings).
I think keeping in perspective their personalities is important to us. I am happy they sincerely respect each other’s differences and even celebrate them.
Now the question is how do we keep this momentum of the mutual-admiration club going? My guess at this moment is to praise each of them when they help each other. My husband and I need to truly make their activities a family event and not close one of them out. I think it is also important to keep Julia well-praised for having to endure an extra day of taking Charlotte to practice. My husband does not get home from work in time for us to tag team it. We are fortunate that Midtown Community Center in Newport News, where Charlotte practices during the week, has a television. Her practice time coincides with Julia’s favorite show – PBS’s Wild Kratz – a show all about animals which she does not watch as often as she would like.
So I hope that we can keep up this balancing act and make our daughters each feel special.