Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mr. Sensible

I don't know how it happened, but Declan has become the most sensible person in our family. He reminds me that he needs to brush his teeth in the morning and that he needs to do his homework in the afternoon. He is the only child in the household who hangs up his backpack and jacket in the coat closet every day, empties his lunchbox and restores it to its proper place in the kitchen, and brings me all of his drawings, painstakingly smoothing out any wrinkles that may have occurred in transport.

He attempts to make his bed each morning, and carefully places his pajamas at the end of the bed if they're clean enough to be worn again. He then combs his hair with water to tame any flyaways.

He even takes pains to ensure that his t-shirt and socks match his pajama pants.

He's no angel--he still fights with his cousins and doesn't always listen and needs to be encouraged to eat his dinner and asks to watch TV incessantly--but he has definitely earned his new nickname: Mr. Sensible.

Actually, Matty and I just call him that behind his back. We don't want to give him a complex (not that there's anything wrong with being sensible).

The funny thing is, if you asked us when we were kids whether Amy or I would be more likely to have a child nicknamed Mr. Sensible, I think we both would have answered, "Amy." Somehow, over the past 30 years, Amy has gone from being an over-achieving do-gooder to being a completely disorganized procrastinator. (Erika's teachers, while praising her bright mind and likability, often point out her amazing lack of organizational skills.)

But if it's true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, then where on earth did Declan fall from? I was hardly a sensible child, unless you call terrorizing your older sister and lying for attention sensible. Nor was I sensible during the, er, excitement of my 20s (I'll leave it at that).

I guess with kids you just never know how they'll turn out. Who would have expected that sweats-loving Amy would beget girly-girls with passions for pink? Hilary, an imaginative child and voracious reader, is clearly Amy's child, but how did Andy, a self-proclaimed former bully, produce Aaron, the most sensitive little boy you'll ever meet? Ronan's wild ways are clearly reminiscent of Matty's own unorthodox upbringing, but Declan... he's just not like us.

Which is good, I think. Without the Aarons and the Declans of the world, everyone would be remarkably similar from one generation to the next. And we, as parents, would remain steadfastly static.

So maybe Gretchen will help Amy get in touch with her girly-girl side, and Aaron will bring out the sensitivity in Andy. I can say with certainty that Declan has already made me a more sensible person. Now I remember to brush my teeth every morning.

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