It never ceases to amaze me when I see the differences in my own children. They have the same family, grew up in the same home, and yet are such totally different characters. And this is something to celebrate, not rue, I hasten to add. Over the years, one of the early indications of those differences that I discovered was the way they played with Lego.
Now Lego is one of the universal toys which will still be around for my great grandchildren I suspect. Such a simple concept, and so much fun for everyone. Except for the unwary mother who stands on a piece barefoot in the middle of the night. And wakes the house with her shrieks of pain as she hops.... enough of that.
Andrew and I travelled at sea for a year with Geoff when he was 2, and one of my standby toys was Lego. He would spend hours constructing complicated edifices, telling me to "overnap the blocks Mummy, be careful, or it will all fall down". He meant overlap. I remember the strict instruction from my 2 year old well. Once built, he would take it apart straight away and build another one. Bigger, more complicated every time, but structurally sound every time. All his pleasure came from the construction.
Diana also loved Lego. But she played with it very differently. She would build higgeldy piggeldy things which would be completely random, and then she would spend hours playing with her toys like ponies, carebears etc in them. These constructions were the "homes" her toys lived in. She would keep them for ages, and slap more additions on when she needed more rooms. Over"napping" was not an essential at all. It drove her brother crazy. Her pleasure came from the end result being a setting for her imagination.
Then David. Well, he used to build rambling cities and towns and they would snake through the house at times. (Hence the dancing shrieking mother bit.) He had some impressive buildings, but the focus was on the world he was creating.
Lego used in 3 different ways. So how does that show in their personalities now?
Fastforward a couple of years. Andrew was the child who seldom read fiction. He devoured facts. Guiness book of records. Books on space, on the Titanic, every subject under the sun. Fact. All logic and little imagination. He was the one who was "gifted" . He has an amazing brain, and the potential to do anything. Andrew is my perfectionist. Precision. Exact. It has to be real and proven. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher told me once that he had sat through an entire lesson when he was supposed to write an essay on "A day at the beach" and refused to write a word. She kept him in at break to find out why. He just didn't see the point. He couldn't use any imagination. So she suggested, as this was going to be a regular requirement quite obviously, that he try to take the subject and think about how he could turn it into something factual. He had the key then, and the essay started with "One day I went to the beach, and saw a starfish." He then wrote all about the lifecycle of the starfish, and ended up with " and then I went home". Sorted. He is my cautious one. The prospect of failure really bothered him. He needed guarantees in a way. Maths and Science come easily to Andrew. He is financially very astute, and doesn't take risks if he can avoid them. He has a science degree.
Diana was good at just about everything she tried. She loved talking, and her imagination spiralled all over the place. She has always been able to think outside the box. Her essays would ramble on in the most complicated way, and she could write endlessly. She didn't like reading for pleasure much though. She wanted to be doing and making, and drawing and playing etc. Climbing trees and laughing with friends. She was daring and adventurous. She loved games and creative things. Give her a box of bits and pieces, and she will create something magical. She could move in and out of her little worlds she made, worked hard at school, and loved trying new things. She set off round the world after school for her GAP year alone, and worked at 3 jobs to fund it. She is my adventurer. She has a geography degree.
David is my deep thinker. He is the one who sees worlds I can't see. He is the one who observes, and stores knowledge in his mind, and then combines all the bits to create things that amaze me. He adores fantasy. He wrote his first book (in a trilogy) when he was 14. He creates fantasy worlds with vision. He is the child who used to start a drawing on a piece of A4 paper, then stick another page on the edge and another and another, as his imagination kept expanding, and we would end up with drawings that were the length of my living room. They had to be rolled up and kept. I still have some of them. He is my laidback one. So laidback he is almost horizontal. Nothing phases him. He doesn't let much show on the outside. He is studying the sciences and maths for A levels, and yet there is this other side of him, where he has a totally untamed and unrestricted imagination. He reads endlessly, but mainly fiction. He will surprise me, I think. Watching to see where his life heads will be fascinating.
Three great kids. Same parents. Same toy. Three uses. So very different. I love each of them to bits. Together they make up my family. All of them are clever. All of them are able. Each of them has a different character, personality, strengths and weaknesses. Each of them has a loving heart. I wouldn't swap them for the world.