Vanilla, Chocolate, Maple, Blueberry – No Strawberry.
I get clear instructions from a nine-year old, for the types of yogurt to buy at Whole Foods, as I drop her off at school in the morning. She is very specific, very clear about what she wants and cares for. She texts me these flavors so that, by mistake, I don’t bring one that she will be responsible for eating.
I faintly remember being a nine-year-old, many years ago; also, I have raised another child, but don’t remember this level of clarity of desires in either case.
Some parents may find this level of specificity as being “picky” and listening to all this as “accommodation”. I consider it as discerning – she just knows what she likes and goes for it, unabashed.
My other child, is conservative about food choices and pretty much stuck to the same menu year after year; as a child, she had a creamy Korma style rice-chicken combination every night – didn’t like much variation. I remember, when Daiyaan was about 9, walking 5 blocks in Prague, to find her a McDonald’s because she didn’t want to try Czech food. So we got her a hamburger before going to a nice gourmet restaurant for a wonderful Czech meal.
Nine-year old Shania, on the other hand, knows the difference between Nigiri and other Sushi – enjoys the layered texture of Lamb – and smiles bright when scallops are sautéed and served with a light drizzle of an unusual chutney. Shania is very specific about her choice of steak and how it needs to be cooked. She even comes up with unique recipes when we do get the opportunity to cook.
I have always wondered why and how, siblings from the same set of parents, are so different.
I remember that my sister and I have always been quite different in some ways and then we have a lot in common in tastes, and habits and idiosyncrasies; maybe I can’t see the contrast that well.
However, watching Daiyaan and Shania’s differences in mannerisms, attitudes and tastes makes this the most intriguing and amazing study in my life.
They each have to be dealt with differently and, of course, their needs have to be met with different sources of inspirations. One of them has to be cajoled to do her homework or finish her papers on-time; the other one, makes sure she finishes her projects 2 days early and looks for extra-credit opportunities.
I often find parents complaining about these individual habits or natural tendencies. I find them amusing and worthy of learning from.
Sometimes I wonder, if these two girls would be only a couple of years apart (versus 10 years in reality) would I be able to see their differences this clearly; would I have been able to understand their individual needs and be able to meet some of them with such freedom.
Being a Dad teaches me a lot about being a leader. At work, I find different team members with different styles and world-values; the ability to find common goals through those values, and raising the collective aspirations, is the essence of leadership.
As my plane gets ready to land, Shania asks me if we can go for Steel City Pops for Popsicles tonight… a very specific request, for a very unique, locally made, frozen dessert. She then outlines for me, our activities for the day and how this particular frozen dessert hunt can be accommodated in our action-packed Saturday.
The schedule even has a nap for me in the afternoon.
Sometimes, I wonder who the parent is, in this relationship.